The longest-serving GOP Senator is calling it quits
Utah’s Orrin Hatch, the GOP’s longest-serving Senator, announced Tuesday that he will leave Congress after his current term, opening up a Senate seat in his home state.
Hatch delivered the announcement in a video, posted to Twitter.
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) January 2, 2018
2017 marked Hatch’s 40th year in Federal office – he was elected to his seat in 1977 – and he says it’s time to retire.
“Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves,” the senator says in the video.
“For me, that time is soon approaching. That’s why after much prayer and discussion with family and friends, I’ve decided to retire at the end of this term.”
Members of the Republican party and, perhaps most notably, President Donald Trump had been pressuring Hatch to call it quits, even though Hatch enjoys a sky-high 83% approval rating in his home state, and has nearly $5 million in his campaign coffers.
According to sources close to the GOP in Utah, it was his wife Elaine who finally convinced the 83-year old to retire back to his home state.
Hatch is unlikely to leave office, however, without naming a successor.
In previous interviews, Hatch was clear that he wanted former Presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to replace him.
Romney has not made any commitments, but he has been rubbing elbows with some of Utah’s top donors of late, even attending a high-profile GOP fundraiser in Salt Lake City in late November.
Romney is popular, and now lives in Utah, but at age 70, he’s hardly a long-term replacement for Hatch, and he will have high-profile competition.
Failed independent Presidential candidate Evan McMullin, who has turned into a leading “never Trump” voice (even to the point of entertaining rumors of Trump’s associations with Russia), is also expected to throw his hat in the ring, though on Wednesday, he voiced his support for Romney.
To say that Romney is not beloved by the Trump White House is also an understatement.
But Utah, as a whole, did not love Trump in return.
Nearly a quarter of Utahns voted for a third party candidate.
Mitt Romney Eyeing 2018 Senate Run In Utah
Former Massachusetts Governor and two-time presidential Republican candidate Mitt Romney is considering a Senate run in Utah,
should [as] incumbent Senator Orrin Hatch choose[s] to retire.
Sources close to Romney told Utah Policy that the 2012 GOP presidential candidate is preparing to run in the 2018 mid-term election if Hatch decides to retire from his senate.
not yet decided whether he [not] will run for an eighth term, a delay that has prevented other possible nominees from deciding whether to enter the primary.
So far, only attorney Chris Forbush has declared his intention to run, but several names have been floated to possibly replace Hatch, including Rep. Chris Stewart, Rep. Mia Love, and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., himself a former GOP candidate.
Independent Presidential candidate Evan McMullin is also rumored to be interested in the slot.
Hatch said previously that if an “outstanding person” stepped into the race, he would step aside.
A spokesman for Hatch has said earlier in the summer that the Senator will not make a decision about his retirement until at least October; inside sources say that decision could come as late as December.
Mitt Romney said in February about a possible 2018 Senate run…
“I don’t have any predictions on what I might do. I’m not going to open a door and I’m not going to close a door. All doors are open.” He continued, “I’m not looking forward to anything political at the national level. We’ve got some races coming up here in Utah that are going to be interesting. We’ll see what happens on that front.”
According to a Utah Policy Poll, if Romney decided to enter the race, he pulls 64% of the vote to Salt Lake County Councilwoman and Democrat Party front-runner Jenny Wilson’s 26%.