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Blunt Steps Down

House GOP whip Roy Blunt is stepping down, he announced to his colleagues in a letter today.

After sending out the letter, he met with reporters. “I just called Joe Barton [R-Texas] and told him I was looking forward to coming back to the energy committee," Blunt told reporters today. "Ten years of asking people to do things they don't want to do is a long time."

His departure clears the way for Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to try his hand at the whip post. Blunt didn’t formally endorse Cantor, but said that "Eric Cantor is doing a great job"

Blunt said he did everything he could but that "somebody else can bring a new bag of tricks to the floor…I think it is a good idea for someone else to bring a different strategic sense."

In the letter to his Republican colleagues, he tells them that in January 2007, as Democrats took control of Congress, he sat down and wrote himself a letter. It sat unopened on his desk until yesterday.

Blunt’s nearly two-year-old letter contained his thoughts on the 2006 mid-term-election failure, he writes, and his ideas on how to jump-start the conservative movement. "I wrote that our ideas didn’t lose the mid-term election, we did," Blunt writes to colleagues. "I also wrote that, were we not successful in recapturing the majority in 2008, it was my intention to serve only two years as Minority Whip."

Blunt, in his letter, also catalogues some the House Republican victories this year: upholding a veto on an expansion of children's health insurance, forcing Democrats to accept offshore drilling and backing the now-widely-praised "surge" in Iraq while the war was deeply unpopular.

"With another election behind us, I still believe that conservative ideas define where the country wants to be and needs to be," he writes. "Yet, in part due to circumstances beyond our control, we were not successful in 2008." 

Dan Reilly contributed to this post. Blunt's full letter after the jump...
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