Tuesday, January 02, 2018
The longest serving Republican senator in American history is finally ready to call it quits. Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch announced on Tuesday that he will not run for re-election in 2018 and leave the Senate at the end of his current term, after 42 years in his seat.
One worry for President Trump is that one of his biggest GOP critics could replace the Utah senator: Mitt Romney. Hatch's retirement kicks off an open race for a reliably Republican Senate seat and Romney's name has been at the top of the list for the GOP nomination for months.
At a time when voters have rallied around outsiders, Romney is a consummate insider. While he would clearly be favored by the national party and top donors for the nomination, he could face a primary fight from the activist right.
Romney will likely enjoy Hatch's support. In March, the senator hinted then that he might opt to retire if Romney would run to replace him. Hatch told National Journal that Romney would be "perfect" for the Senate. An unusual factor could be Romney's age, at 70 years old. However, many senators serve well in to their 80s and Romney's popularity would likely overcome any concerns about his age. He ran for Senate from Massachusetts in 1994, but lost to veteran Democrat Edward Kennedy.
"I've expressed it to him. I can see why he might not want to do it, but I can also see why if he did it, it would be a great thing for America," Hatch said then.
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