Utah's Hatch to retire, opening door to possible Romney run

03 January, 2018, 01:55 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch R-Utah listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington Sept. 20 2017. Hatch says he is retiring after four decades in Senate (Alex Brandon  AP

"Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves".

In a video shared on Twitter, the 83-year-old Utah Republican announced his plan to leave the Senate early next year after more than 40 years.

Republicans with a close eye on the race said they expect Romney to run for Hatch's seat, and have seen signs that his allies have always been gearing up for a bid.

Former 2012 Republican presidential candidate - and frequent critic of President Trump - Mitt Romney is expected to consider running for the seat. He is finishing up his seventh term in the upper chamber of Congress this year as the longest-serving Republican senator in history.

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Romney, who last served in government as the governor of MA from 2003 through 2007, has been rumored for months to be planning a run for the seat held by longtime Republican Sen.

In his retirement announcement, Mr. Hatch dwelled on his long record, which includes popular, bipartisan initiatives like the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Americans With Disabilities Act, as well as more partisan achievements, like his prominent role in the confirmation of Supreme Court justices and his authorship of last month's tax law, which passed without a Democratic vote. "I will never forget the (beyond kind) statements he has made about me as President", he added. Romney would likely be among a small number of influential Republicans willing to take on Trump.

He also has drawn the ire of Trump's former White House adviser, Steve Bannon, who recently derided Romney as a draft dodger who "hid behind" his Mormon religion to avoid serving in the Vietnam War.

If Hatch had opted to stay in the Senate, he could have faced a formidable challenge from a crop of ambitious Utah Republicans.

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Hatch is now in his seventh term - first elected in 1976 - and is the Senate president pro tempore.

In his Tuesday announcement, Hatch mentioned the president, who urged him to run last month.

Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump "has the greatest and deepest amount of respect for Senator Hatch and his over four decades of experience in the Senate".

After the election, Romney submitted himself as a candidate to be secretary of state in an excruciatingly public interview process.

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Mr. Romney was unaware of Mr. Hatch's decision and of late had been operating under the assumption that the senator would run again, not even bringing up the possibility of a campaign while skiing Monday with friends in Utah.

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