Former Massachusetts governor and twice failed GOP candidate for president Mitt Romney is reportedly quite seriously contemplating a Senate run in Utah.  While the senior senator from Utah Orrin Hatch (R) has not announced any plans to retire, it appears that the Utah GOP is ready for Romney.

Romney is no stranger to Senate campaigns; he ran against Ted Kennedy (D-MA) in 1994 and lost.  Utah, however, may be just the ticket for Romney who has high approval numbers there and is a favorite among the Utah GOP.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s editorial board penned a plea to Romney last weekend in which they noted that Romney “could be a savior for Republicans exhausted by President Trump.”  Among the traits they laud is Romney’s consistent anti-Trumpism, Romneycare, and his mild temperament and statesmanship.

The Tribune also contends, somewhat bafflingly,  that winning this Senate seat would make him “the leading voice of the Republican Party.”

Mitt Romney should run for Senate.

At least that is what many Utahns are hoping for. A recent poll shows that 75 percent of Utah voters do not want to see Sen. Orrin Hatch run for Senate again. Hatch was elected 41 years ago, is 83 and would be 90 at the end of another term. He assured voters during his last campaign that this would be his last term.

It should be.

. . . . Romney could be a savior for Republicans exhausted by President Trump. He has been a consistent voice against much of Trump’s divisiveness. In August Romney called on Trump to apologize for his comments equating white supremacists in Charlottesville, North Carolina, with counter-protesters rallying against racism. (He didn’t.)

And then of course there was Romney’s better-late-than-never March 2016 speech that eviscerated Trump as a phony and fraud.

There’s no question Romney is a seasoned and generous politician. He accomplished health care reform as governor of Massachusetts before such reform was popular. He led Utah out of scandal and onto the world stage with a successful 2002 Winter Olympics.

. . . . His notoriety as a well-mannered foe would help him work across the aisle in the contentious Senate. And his reputation for statesmanship would launch him into leadership roles most freshmen congressmen only dream of.

In fact, if he decides to run, he would be the leading voice of the Republican Party, and Utah would be his home.

The reports of Romney giving serious contemplation to a Senate run in Utah is not limited to gushing editorials by a board who appears to be stuck in a 2008 time warp.  Beyond House minority leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) longing for a Romney presidency, both former vice president Joe Biden (D) and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have urged Romney to run if Hatch chooses not to do so.

Both Romney and Hatch have stated that they will not run against one another, and Hatch indicated that he’d be comfortable stepping down if Romney is his successor.

Fox News reports:

Romney reportedly explored his options to run for Senate in 2018, according to the Atlantic back in April, but he insisted that he will run only if the current senator retires as promised. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly urged Romney to run if Hatch steps down.

Hatch told the National Journal in March that although he has not “made that final determination” whether he will run again, he said he would consider retiring from politics if Romney be his replacement.

According to the Atlantic, Utah Republicans have been “quietly working behind the scenes” to get Hatch to retire.

Republicans in Utah have been quietly working behind the scenes all year to convince Hatch—who, at 83 years old, is the longest-serving Republican Senator in Washington—that it’s time to bring his career to an end. Polls show a large majority of Utahns want him to retire, and he appears extraordinarily vulnerable to a primary challenge. Some GOP leaders in Utah worry that he will lose to an unpredictable insurgent candidate with few ties to the party establishment.

. . . . In an effort to incentivize Hatch to retire, several influential Republican donors—including Spencer Zwick, the former finance chairman for Romney’s presidential campaign—have been working to raise money for a library or institute in Hatch’s name, and sources say the project is on track to receive the necessary funding.

. . . .  Even as Romney has remained coy about the prospect of a Senate bid in public, the growing likelihood that he will run has become an open secret in Utah political circles. At a recent gathering of state dignitaries, a prominent GOP donor was heard referring to Romney—in his presence—as “the senator.”

And then, of course, there is the Trump factor.  Romney, according to unnamed sources (so take it for what’s worth), has an inchoate plan to “mute” his criticism of Trump, at least at first.

The Atlantic continues:

People close to Romney say his desire to serve in the Senate now—at a time of tremendous political upheaval and widespread GOP infighting—is multi-faceted. He has told friends that he is alarmed at what he regards as the recklessness and incompetence of the Trump presidency so far, and that he’s worried about what long-term effects Trumpism could have on the Republican Party. Friends also say he is restless and eager to get off the sidelines, and that after years of losing campaigns, the prospect of an all-but-guaranteed electoral victory is extremely tempting.

It’s unclear what a Senator Romney would look like once in Washington. Some people who know him say he might consider muting his criticism of Trump—at least at first—and use his status as an elder statesman in the GOP to rally congressional Republicans around conservative legislative initiatives. Others, meanwhile, believe he would help fill the role being vacated by Jeff Flake and Bob Corker—two outgoing Republican senators who have been outspoken in their criticism of Trump.

Will the state that gave us Senator Mike Lee (R) also elect Mitt Romney to serve as Utah’s junior Senator?

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