Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) is signaling he’d be willing to step aside and not run for re-election in 2018 if former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), who know lives in the Beehive State, would run for his seat.
In an interview this week with National Journal, Hatch said he “might very well consider” retiring if an “outstanding person” were to run for the Republican nomination. After being asked who that person might be, the senator said: “Well, Mitt Romney would be perfect.”
Orrin Hatch tells @arogDC he might be willing to retire ... if he could hand his seat to Mitt Romney. ($$)… https://t.co/5uS8F1Ux6D— Ben Pershing (@Ben Pershing)1490752281.0
In February, Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, didn’t rule out a possible Senate run in the future.
“I don’t have any predictions on what I might do. I'm not going to open a door and I'm not going to close a door. All doors are open,” he told Deseret News.
Former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin, who ran as a conservative alternative to President Donald Trump, said earlier this month that he is considering challenging Hatch or Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) in 2018.
“It is likely that I will seek public office again,” McMullin said. “That might be in 2018 or it might be sometime down the road, perhaps very far down the road.
“It is possible that I will challenge Chaffetz or Sen. Hatch, but there are a lot of factors that go into that decision,” he continued. “One of the primary factors is what the people of Utah want.”
When Hatch, one of the longest-serving members of the Senate, ran for re-election in 2012, he said it would be his last term, though he has since reconsidered. However, according to a recent poll, the 83-year-old lawmaker might have some trouble winning re-election.
A recent survey by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics shows that 78 percent of registered Utah voters think it’s time for Hatch to call it quits. Of those, 58 percent say Hatch should “definitely not” run again.
During his brief presidential campaign, McMullin spent most of his time and money in Utah, a deep-red state where Trump was believed to be vulnerable because of his unpopularity among Mormons.
Though the president ultimately won Utah with 46 percent support, McMullin walked away with 22 percent and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton earned 27 percent.