Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will host a re-election fundraiser in early January, which raises questions about whether Mitt Romney will run for the U.S. Senate.
Hatch will invite donors to his eighth annual ski fundraiser in early January at the St. Regis Hotel in Park City, Utah, where the suggested donation reaches as high as $5,000 for families.
Hatch’s fundraiser announcement shocked many pundits, who widely expected him to announce his retirement in early 2018 once he and congressional Republicans presumably pass the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act before Christmas. Hatch, as the Senate Finance chairman, played a significant role in passing the Senate tax cut legislation last week.
Sources close to failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney suggested that he would be interested in running for Utah Senate if Sen. Hatch were to retire.
Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock told CNN that Sen. Hatch will hold the fundraiser regardless of his pending decision.
“Senator Hatch holds this event every year in order to gather longtime political friends and allies in Utah. He will hold the event regardless of his final decision about 2018,” Whitlock said.
Romney’s advisers decided not to comment to CNN; the former Massachusetts governor’s camp said that they will not comment on the Senate race until the Senate Finance chairman decides on his retirement.
Romney jumped into the political fray on Monday in an attempt to undermine Alabama Judge Roy Moore’s campaign, tweeting, “Roy Moore in the US Senate would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation. Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”
Stephen K. Bannon, Breitbart News’s executive chairman and former White House chief strategist, lashed out at Romney at a Roy Moore rally this week.
“Judge Moore is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point,” Bannon said. “Judge Moore served his country in one of the toughest wars we ever had, in Vietnam.”
“That’s honor and integrity, Mitt,” Bannon argued. “And while we’re on the subject of Vietnam and honor and integrity, you avoided service, brother.”
President Donald Trump praised Sen. Hatch’s contribution to his home state and country on Monday; Trump said he hopes Hatch will “continue to serve [his] state and [his] country in the Senate for a very long time to come.”
Chairman Hatch announced on Wednesday that after passing tax reform and other significant legislation, he will discuss with his family his plans for the future.
“In the next few weeks, I believe we are going to have tax reform signed into law, we are going to extend CHIP, and a number of other important things,” Hatch explained. “After that, I plan to spend time with my family to discuss plans for the future. I think I’ll have an announcement sometime after that.”