Jay Nixon will not run for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2022

Jason Hancock
Missouri Independent
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announces a plan to create a commission to address issues raised by recent events in Ferguson, Missouri on October 21, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri.  Civil unrest erupted in Ferguson following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9. Demonstrations continue in the city as concerns grow about possible reaction when a grand jury decision about the possible prosecution of Wilson is released.  Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon put the rumors to bed on Thursday, announcing in a tweet that he will not run for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate next year.

Considered by many to be the party’s best shot at flipping the seat currently held by retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, Nixon said in a statement that he has “truly enjoyed the positive changes in my life and fitness since completing 30 consecutive years of public service.

“I am not running for U.S. Senate,” he said. “I choose a different path.”

Nixon, 65, is scheduled to headline a fundraiser for the Clay County Democratic Party next week. The planned appearance super-charged speculation that he was pondering a return to politics.  He’d been talking to longtime aides, friends and acquaintances, gaming out the 2022 landscape and weighing his options.

But on Thursday, he closed the door on a political comeback.

“I always thrived on policy more than politics,” he said. “My post-governor involvement on a myriad of matters is not filtered through a partisan lens — that is liberating and I want it to continue.”

A Democrat who served two terms as governor and four as attorney general, Nixon began fielding calls from national party leaders the moment Blunt announced his retirement in March.

His decision not to run leaves several contenders still in the mix.

Marine Corps veteran Lance Kunce of Independence, activist Tim Shepard of Kansas City, former state Sen. Scott Sifton of Afton and entrepreneur Spencer Toder of St. Louis have filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to run for the Senate in 2022.

On the Republican side, disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, attorney Mark McCloskey and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler have formally entered the race — with a litany of other Republicans publicly pondering a run.