The Republican’s longest-serving senator will retire at the end of his term this year. Sen. Hatch is 83-years-old and serving his seventh Senate term.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch released a video statement Tuesday announcing his plans to retire into public life.

Utah’s Junior Senator:

And now the power shifts to Mississippi:

Hatch withstood weighty opposition from outsider Tea Party groups and handily won re-election in 2012. Unless something wild and outlandish happens, a decent Republican should have no problem holding the seat in deep red Utah.

So who, I wonder, might run?

As it stands, speculation revolves around one man: Mitt Romney.

According to several reports, Trump attempted to persuade Sen. Hatch to run for an eighth term, partially to ice Romney out of a Senate seat. Romney, who’s popular in Utah, expressed interest in running for the seat in the event Hatch retired. Politico reporterd a month ago:

Donald Trump is going all out to persuade seven-term Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch to seek reelection — a push aimed in no small part at keeping the president’s longtime nemesis, Mitt Romney, out of the Senate.

Romney has been preparing to run for Hatch’s seat on the long-held assumption that the 83-year-old would retire. Yet Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in history, is now refusing to rule out another campaign — a circumstance Romney’s infuriated inner circle blames squarely on the president. Their suspicions are warranted: Trump has sounded off to friends about how he doesn’t like the idea of a Sen. Romney.

The president’s mostly behind-the-scenes campaign to sway Hatch will burst into public view on Monday, when he arrives in Salt Lake City to hold a well-choreographed event designed to showcase his affection for the powerful Senate Finance Committee chairman.

Trump’s appearance is ostensibly official in purpose: He will announce his decision to reduce the size of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand-Staircase Escalante national monuments, a cause that Hatch has championed. But it’s also undeniably political: to use the trappings of presidential power to get a veteran lawmaker to rethink his long anticipated plans to leave the Senate.

A New York Times report published Tuesday indicates that Trump may be warming to the idea of a Senator Romney:

The president has had Mr. Romney on his mind. Over golf earlier this year, Mr. Trump asked Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, what he thought of the former Republican nominee. (Mr. Graham said he praised Mr. Romney and predicted he would be a solid senator.)

Mr. Romney repeatedly assailed the president during the 2016 campaign, calling Mr. Trump “a fraud,” and Mr. Trump returned the favor, stating that Mr. Romney “choked like a dog” in the 2012 race. The two had something of a rapprochement after the election when Mr. Romney was briefly considered as secretary of state, but White House advisers are uneasy about having such a well-known critic in the Senate.

For what it’s worth.

Let the games begin!


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