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Jan. 4, 2024 |  By: Rudi Keller - Missouri Independent

Blaine Luetkemeyer opts out of another term in Congress


By Rudi Keller - Missouri Independent

Missouri’s second-longest serving member of Congress announced Thursday he will not seek a ninth term.

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, a Republican who turns 72 this year, said in a social media post that he made the decision to leave Congress “after a lot of thoughtful discussion with my family.”

With the announcement, Luetkemeyer joins about two dozen Democrats and 14 Republicans in the U.S. House who have said they will not seek re-election this year.

“As we look to the future, I believe that if we work hard, stay together, and believe in ourselves our best days are indeed still ahead,” Luetkemeyer wrote in his announcement.

Luetkemeyer first won election to the House in 2008 in the old 9th District. When that district was eliminated after the 2010 census, Luetkemeyer won election six times in the 3rd District.

Luetkemeyer’s exit will likely trigger a crowded primary, especially for Republicans who consider the district a safe seat likely to elect whoever wins the GOP nomination in August. After squeaking into office by 2.5% in 2008, Luetkemeyer has never received less than 63% of the vote and has averaged 67% over the past five elections.

The 3rd District runs through all or part of 16 counties, from the Lake of the Ozarks to the Mississippi River. Almost half the population is in eastern and northern St. Charles County, the southern half of Boone County and the western half of Jefferson County.

Potential candidates include incumbent or recent state senators and representatives who live in the district. State Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, who lives in Jefferson County, used social media to say “Of course I’m considering it!!”

Other state lawmakers who might consider the race include Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden of Columbia, state Sens. Mike Bernskoetter of Jefferson City, Travis Fitzwater of Holts Summit, Bill Eigel of Weldon Spring and Nick Schroer of Defiance, as well as former state Sen. Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis.

For some of the potential candidates, entering the race would alter their political plans for the year. Rowden has announced he is running for secretary of state. Onder is running for lieutenant governor and put $500,000 of his own money into his campaign fund.

There is no requirement that a candidate for Congress live in the district. That could provide an opening for Luetkemeyer’s cousin, state Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, who currently resides in Parkville and represents a northwest Missouri district in the state Senate.

Former state Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz of Sullivan said he received several calls Thursday asking whether he would run. Schatz lives in Franklin County, which is not in the district, but he said he owns property within the district.

“I just got word today and it is something that has landed on my plate that is something to think about,” Schatz said.

In a text message, Schroer said he would have to talk to family and supporters before deciding on a bid.

“Our nation is absolutely heading in the wrong direction and fast,” Schroer said. “We must ensure a strong and effective conservative runs for this seat with the desire to fight to save our Republic.”

None of the other potential candidates contacted by The Independent responded with a comment on their plans.

Blaine Luetkemeyer, a banker who resides in St. Elizabeth, entered politics in 1998 by winning a seat in the Missouri House. He lost the 2004 primary for state treasurer and was appointed tourism director by then-Gov. Matt Blunt in 2005.

He is chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Illicit Finance and International Financial Institutions of the Committee on Financial Services. He likely would have become chairman of the committee in the next Congress if Republicans retain the majority.

Missouri’s senior member of Congress is Sam Graves, a Republican who has represented the 6th District since 2001.