Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could be jumping back into the public spotlight with a 2018 Senate run.
According to Utah Policy, sources close to Romney have said that the former governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee is seeking the Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) if Hatch decides to retire.
Hatch, 83, has indicated he plans to run for an eighth term in 2018 barring personal health issues, but has not yet made a formal announcement. Those close to him told Utah Policy he may not make the decision until as late as December.
Hatch told reporters earlier this year that Romney confirmed he would not throw his hat into the ring for the seat.
“I’ve talked to Mitt Romney. He’s not going to run for this seat. I would be glad for him if he would,” Hatch said at the end of May.
Romney wouldn’t be the only candidate competing for the seat though — Rep. Chris Stewart told the Salt Lake City Tribune editorial board late August that he would jump in the race if Hatch decided not to run.
“If he chooses not to run — and he’s indicated that he probably will — but if he were to change his mind and not run, then I believe that we would,” Stewart said.
According to Utah Policy, a poll released Monday indicated strong favorability for Romney in a hypothetical matchup versus leading Democratic candidate Jenny Wilson by 64 to 26 percent.
Romney, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, returned to Utah in 2015, where he enjoyed his highest margin in 2012 — 73 percent to former President Barack Obama’s 25 percent.
A Brigham Young graduate and devout Mormon, Romney is frequently referred to as “Utah’s adopted son.” He also served as the chief executive officer of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics, where he recruited sponsors who had previously been scared off by a bribery scandal and federal investigation of the International Olympics Committee.
“If he were to run again, I believe he would be much more willing to open up and share who he is — not by asking others to learn the doctrines of his faith but by speaking of the values of love and service that it has taught him,” Romney’s eldest son, Tagg, told the Washington Post at the time.