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Luetkemeyer discusses decision to retire at end of term

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ST. ELIZABETH, Mo. – Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, a longtime Missouri representative in Washington, D.C., said Thursday that he would not seek reelection in 2024 and announced his retirement.

Luetkemeyer spoke with FOX 2 about his 16 years in Washington and why now is the time to step away, even with so much at stake in the upcoming November elections. He was considered a shoe-in to retain the seat for the GOP, which is clinging to an ultra-thin majority in the House of Representatives.

“I really think we’re looking at another ‘wave’ election this fall,” Luetkemeyer said. “I come from and actually live in the smallest town of anybody in Congress.”

St. Elizabeth’s population is less than 400.

Luetkemeyer, 71, won’t be running for a ninth term. He represents Missouri’s 3rd Congressional District, which stretches from St. Charles County and Jefferson County in suburban St. Louis, around Jefferson City, and much of the Lake of Ozarks.

“My whole family was together over the holidays. We sat down and talked through this. We’ve always done things as a family,” he said.

Together, they decided it was time for him to leave Washington.

Luetkemeyer said he remains in good health and looks forward to spending more time with his wife, three children, and seven grandchildren.

He’s known in Congress as a conservative champion of small businesses. He has largely steered clear of bitter battles that have thrust colleagues into the limelight. More than any one piece of legislation, he’s most proud of helping constituents on a personal level, like a veteran fighting for his just due.

“His disability benefits were being held up by the Veterans Administration. They’d been held up for several years. He wound up getting a check for $300,000 for his back pay,” the congressman said. “I’m a guy who actually got some stuff done when I went to D.C. You look at those other guys who are on TV; they’re in the bottom 25 when it comes to being effective legislators. I went there to make a difference, not to raise hell.”

He sees the economy and border security as the GOP’s strongest issues in November. He expects the presidential race to be a rematch of the past two presidents: Biden and Trump.

“This election, if it comes down to those two again, is a referendum on both presidencies: which one would you rather have?” he said. “It takes $1,000 more per month to buy the same goods and services as two years ago and salaries haven’t gone up $1,000 a month. So, (people have) lost buying power. They have to make choices. They’ve lost the ability to pay the same bills they had two years ago. Small businesses are getting beat to heck. They’re just getting beaten over the head every day. People are going to step up and say, ‘You know what? Enough of this. This is not working.’”

Here’s his official statement on his decision to leave Congress at the end of his term in December:

It has been as honor to serve the great people of the Third Congressional District and State of Missouri these past several years. However, after a lot of thoughtful discussion with my family, I have decided to not file for re-election 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.

“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. 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.

FOX 2’s Hancock and Kelley political team expects Luetkemeyer’s seat to remain “Republican-red,” with control of Congress in the balance in November. Filing to run for the August primary opens Feb. 27.

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