Former Republican presidential nominee and Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney is considering running for the Senate seat in Utah currently held by the incumbent Orrin Hatch, according to sources close to The Atlantic.
Romney, 70, reportedly has the backing of Utah Republican leaders and donors who will urge Hatch to retire his seat in 2018, although Romney has signaled he would not do this without the 83-year-old Hatch’s blessing.
Hatch might have already given Romney that blessing, as he told National Journal in an interview last week that he “might well consider” retiring should he find a “really outstanding person to run for my position.”
“Mitt Romney would be perfect,” Hatch added.
However, Hatch has since tried to play down reports that he will retire in 2018, telling The Atlantic that he was still “giving careful consideration as to whether I will seek reelection,” and is “yet to make a final decision.”
“While it’s no secret that I hold Mitt Romney in extraordinarily high esteem, my musing aloud on the subject has apparently snowballed into a frenzy of premature speculation,” he said, adding that “overhyped intrigue doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation, especially this soon after the last election.”
Nevertheless, sources close to Romney have said that he is strongly considering a bid, and has already held conversations with both Hatch and House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about his future prospects as a Senator.
Although he was raised in Michigan, Romney has strong links to the state of Utah, owning a vacation home in Salt Lake City, as well as holding an honorary doctorate from the University of Utah.
Since his failed presidential bid, many have speculated about Romney returning to the political frontline, although no formal plans have materialized.
Despite being a fervent critic of Donald Trump before his election victory last November., Romney was strongly considered for the role of Secretary of State. However, former ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson was eventually appointed to the position.