Orrin Hatch Retirement Opens Door For Trump Critic Mitt Romney In Senate

Tribune Editorial Why Orrin Hatch is Utahn of the Year

Sen. Orrin Hatch Announces Retirement, Possibly Clearing Way for Mitt Romney

Hatch also served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was at the center of numerous biggest confirmation battles. "As your senator, I've always sought to fight for those who could not fight for themselves".

Many conservatives applauded Hatch's record over his seven terms in the Senate, but at 83 years old, it is probably time for Hatch to enjoy retirement.

When the president visited Utah last month, he said I was a fighter. Last month, Hatch reveled in the spotlight as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee while shepherding a massive tax bill through the Senate - attention, friends and colleagues said, that made him lean toward running again.

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It is widely thought that his retirement could clear the path for former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, though it is unclear whether Romney will jump back into the political arena. But one week after a local newspaper called on him to retire, and despite the president's urging him not to, Hatch announced he intends to do just that.

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. On Christmas Day, The Salt Lake Tribune named the senator "Utahn of the Year", but not for flattering reasons. Romney went on to say, "He's playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat".

The president has had Mr. Romney on his mind.

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Romney has until March 15 to file for Hatch's seat.

Romney had a thaw with Trump when he was under consideration to be secretary of state, but has continued publicly criticizing the president since he took office. The closest analogy would be former Sen. Trump has the "greatest and deepest respect" for Hatch, particularly for the role he played in passing tax reform.

Derek Miller, a Utah businessman who had been considering a run for Hatch's seat, said Tuesday that Romney has popped up more frequently at policy gatherings, chamber of commerce meetings and social events in Utah. "If he doesn't, the voters should end it for him", the editorial concluded.

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