Mitt Romney Could Be Utah’s Next Senator

Insiders say Sen. Orrin Hatch may not run for reelection, paving the way for the former Massachusetts governor.

Photo via AP

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney may soon be trying a new title on for size: junior senator.

According to the Atlantic, Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has represented Utah since 1977, told allies back at home that he plans to retire. Sources close to Romney and Hatch also indicated that the 2012 presidential nominee is exploring the chance to run for the potentially vacant seat, though nothing is finalized.

Speculation has swirled around Hatch’s reelection bid for years, with supporters and opponents alike being jostled around in a constant will-he-or-won’t-he cycle. A spokesperson for Hatch, Dave Hansen, told The Atlantic that the senator “has not made a final decision about whether or not to seek reelection,” but the writing may be on the wall: A poll of Utah voters taken this summer indicates 78 percent of his constituents don’t think Hatch should run for the seat again.

This is not the first time Romney’s name has come up in Congressional discussions. The Atlantic first reported his potential candidacy in April, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Washington Post that he had spoken to the former governor about running for the Utah seat. And back in the spring, Hatch himself told National Journal that he thought Romney would make a “perfect” successor.

Romney, who attended Utah’s Brigham Young University and purchased a gigantic mansion in the state in 2013, has not held elected office since his term as Massachusetts governor ended in 2007. He has since launched two failed presidential campaigns only to re-emerge as an outspoken critic of then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 election cycle. After Trump won the White House, Romney was reportedly in the mix for the Secretary of State position, but was ultimately passed over for Rex Tillerson.

A Romney candidacy would be a boon for establishment Republicans, who fear that Hatch would lose in the primaries to an insurgent challenger of Steve Bannon’s making. According to the Atlantic, a number of donors and influencers in Utah have already expressed support for a Romney run, so perhaps the governor’s decade-long losing streak stands to end soon.