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Orrin Hatch retires as promised. Is Mitt Romney waiting in the wings?

Conservative Review

U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, will not seek re-election to the Senate in 2018.

Keeping his 2012 campaign promise to Utah voters, Hatch, 83, announced his retirement in a video posted to Twitter Tuesday.

"My fellow Utahns, for over forty years I've had the great honor of serving as your senator," Hatch said. "Only in a nation like ours could someone like me, the scrappy son of a simple carpenter, grow up to become a United States senator."

Reflecting on his four-decade record, Hatch noted that he's authored more bills that have been made law than any federal lawmaker alive today. "Just last month, I helped lead the effort to pass historic, comprehensive tax reform," Hatch said, also naming the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as one of his proudest achievements.

“When the president visited Utah last month, he said I was a fighter. I’ve always been a fighter. I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington,” he said. “But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And 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."

Hatch's retirement from the Senate, following Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., creates yet another open seat in what is shaping up to be a hotly contested national election year. All eyes are on former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is now a Utah resident and has reportedly told those close to him he will run for Senate if Hatch retires.

Romney would be the obvious establishment choice for the seat, though he may not be favored by President Trump. During the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Romney referred to Trump as "a phony, a fraud" and said, "He's playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat."

With a pro-life Supreme Court justice, virtual regulatory freeze, and massive tax cut achieved in 2017, Romney may wish to revise his 2016 assessment of the president. At the very least, if he runs, he will need to clarify for Utah voters how he intends to accomplish the agenda of a president he has continually, publicly criticized.

Though he would be a newcomer to the U.S. Senate, Romney’s insider establishment connections would likely elevate him to a position of authority in the Senate, should he replace the powerful Hatch.

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