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Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer won’t run for reelection in 2024

A white man with glasses faces the camera with the U.S. flag over his left shoulder.
House Creative Services
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U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, has served in Missouri’s 3rd Congressional District since 2009.

Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer is opting to retire in 2024, bringing an end to a congressional career in which he became a major figure on financial services issues.

The St. Elizabeth Republican’s decision will likely prompt a sizable GOP primary to represent the state’s 3rd District, which takes in portions of the St. Louis area.

In a statement Thursday, Luetkemeyer, 71, said that “after a lot of thoughtful discussion with my family, I have decided to not file for reelection and retire at the end of my term in December.”

“Over the coming months, as I finish up my last term, I look forward to continuing to work with all my constituents on their myriad of issues as well as work on the many difficult and serious problems confronting our great country. There is still a lot to do,” Luetkemeyer said.

The announcement was somewhat of a surprise, especially after House Financial Services Chairman Patrick McHenry announced he wouldn’t run for reelection. Roll Call reported that Luetkemeyer would vie to become the chairman of that powerful committee.

“As we tackle the many challenges we face, I hope we remember what someone once said, that ‘the greatness of our country is not found in the halls of Congress but in the hearts and homes of our people.’ That assessment is still true today,” Luetkemeyer said. “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."

In the most recent session of Congress, Luetkemeyer was pushing for a bill that would seek to steer humanitarian aid for Iran to its intended purpose — and not to fund terrorism. He was often a key voice in legislation that affected the financial services industry.

Last year, Luetkemeyer expressed frustration over the high-profile disputes around the GOP speaker of House. He was especially critical of Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz for engineering a successful effort to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“There's a hypocrisy of this group on top of the self-centeredness that is beyond the pale,” Luetkemeyer said, referring to the Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy.

Long career in state and federal politics

Luetkemeyer was first elected to the Missouri House in 1998, joining the General Assembly when Republicans were in the minority. He eventually became a member of House leadership when the GOP gained the majority after the 2002 elections.

In 2004, Luetkemeyer unsuccessfully ran for state treasurer, losing in a primary to Republican Sarah Steelman. He went on to become the state’s tourism director before jumping into the contest to succeed U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, who vacated the now-defunct 9th District Congressional seat to run for governor.

While Hulshof had easily won reelection in the 9th District, the 2008 race was highly competitive — primarily because the northeast part of the district was still somewhat Democratic and also because Missouri Republicans had a down cycle because of Barack Obama’s presidential run. Luetkemeyer ultimately prevailed in a bruising primary that included former state Sen. Bob Onder, then-state Rep. Danie Moore and former University of Missouri football star Brock Olivo.

Luetkemeyer then narrowly defeated Democrat Judy Baker in a race that featured both political parties pouring in money. After that 2008 cycle, Luetkemeyer never faced another competitive general election. Even if his district hadn’t been redrawn to be reliably Republican, the reddening of northeast Missouri likely would have still kept him in office.

During a 2014 episode of St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking, Luetkemeyer said losing his statewide race in 2004 was a blessing in disguise — because it prepared him for 2008.

“It gives you a sense of the level of campaign you have to run to be able to win at the level that we're at,” he said.

The Missouri Capitol building on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2024, in Jefferson City, Mo.
Tristen Rouse
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St. Louis Public Radio
A number of Missouri state lawmakers may run for Luetkemeyer's seat

Crowded primary?

The 3rd District includes portions of Jefferson and St. Charles counties, as well as mid-Missouri outposts like Jefferson City and portions of Columbia. Since congressional seats don’t open up particularly often, it’s likely that a sizable number of Republicans could run in the August primary to succeed Luetkemeyer.

Some of the potential candidates who have been floated as possible contenders include state Sens. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, Nick Schroer, R-St. Charles County, and Travis Fitzwater, R-Callaway County.

Coleman sent out a tweet on Thursday stating that “of course I’m considering it!!” Schroer also said in a tweet that “as we inch ever so closely to yet another global war, as our Constitution is being shredded before our very eyes, illegal immigration flooding into our nation, we need a proven conservative fighter willing to step in the trenches and defend our Republic.”

Onder, who is running for lieutenant governor has also been floated as a potential candidate to succeed Luetkemeyer.

Even though many of Missouri’s statewide officials have residences in the 3rd District, it’s unlikely that any of these Jefferson City residents will run for the seat. In fact, a spokesman for gubernatorial candidate Mike Kehoe and Attorney General Andrew Bailey said it was “hard no” that they’d switch to Congress.

And state Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick replied “same” to a tweet mentioning that Bailey and Kehoe were hard nos. It’s also highly unlikely that Gov. Mike Parson, who lives in the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City, would run for the seat — especially since his home base in Bolivar, far away from the 3rd District.

On the Democratic side, Bethany Mann, who ran against Luetkemeyer in 2022, is planning on running again later this year.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.