Mitt Romney For Senate?

For the second time this year, there are rumors that Mitt Romney could run for Senator from Utah if Orrin Hatch decides to retire.


A Utah politics writer is reporting that Mitt Romney is reportedly planning on running for a seat in the U.S. Senate in the event that Orrin Hatch retires:

Sources tell that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is preparing to run for Senate in 2018 if Sen. Orrin Hatch decides to retire.

Sources close to Romney say the two-time presidential candidate will jump into the 2018 Utah Senate scrum if Hatch opts not to.

So far, Hatch has not made up his mind as to whether he’ll run for an eighth term in 2018. He has previously said he was planning on running as long as his and his wife’s health holds up.

Dave Hansen, a longtime political advisor to Hatch, told last month that he didn’t expect Hatch to decide on his political future until October. However, sources now tell that Hatch may not make up his mind until December.

Hatch’s reticence to make a definitive announcement is presenting other candidates from getting in the race, but Romney has the financial resources to mount a campaign no matter when Hatch decides.

Rep. Chris Stewart also has said he would like to jump into the race if Hatch decides against running for an eighth term next year.

This isn’t the first time that Romney’s name has come up in connection with the future of Hatch’s Senate seat. When he ran for his seventh term in 2012, Hatch had said that this would be his last term in office, thus seemingly putting an eventual end on a Senate career that began when he was first elected to the seat in 1976. At that time, of course, Republicans were still in the minority in the upper chamber and Hatch had already spent nearly forty years representing his home state. In 2014, though, Republicans gained control of the Senate and Hatch, as the longest-serving Republican Senator, became President Pro Tempore of the Senate, putting him third in the line of succession to the Presidency. Perhaps because of that, or perhaps because of his own concerns about the future of the Republican Party both in Utah and nationally, Hatch announced in March of this year that he would stand for an eighth term in office notwithstanding his announcement five years earlier, a decision which seemed to preclude what seemed likely to be a tough Republican battle to succeed him in office. One month later, though, there was some speculation that Hatch was reconsidering that decision and that Romney was considering stepping into the race should Hatch decide to retire after all. This news only came a few weeks after it was reported that Hatch had said that he would be willing to retire from the Senate if an “outstanding person” like Mitt Romney were to run in his stead. Today’s report seems to indicate that there’s still a possibility of this happening, but again it all depends on whether or not Hatch runs again since it’s clear that Romney would not enter the race if Hatch was running again.

As I noted back in April, if Romney did step into the race to replace Hatch it seems clear that he’d win easily. Romney won the state easily in the Republican Presidential Primary Election there in both 2008 and 2012. In fact, he was so popular among Utah Republicans that his adversaries in both elections barely bothered to campaign in the state. In the General Election in 2012, he beat former President Obama by nearly 500,000 votes. This was a huge margin of victory even for Utah, which has gone Republican in every election since 1968 and has only gone Democratic in two elections since World War Two, in 1948 and 1964. The former Massachusetts Governor remains popular in his home state, and a recent poll shows that he would win the seat easily if he did run. Whether this will be the news that causes Hatch to bow out of the race remains to be seen, though.

Given the current state of politics in Washington generally, and in the Republican Party specifically, Mitt Romney in the Senate would set up a rather interesting dynamic. While he declined to run a third time for the Republican nomination last year, there were multiple reports during the campaign that he was far from silent behind the scenes in the Republican Party nationally, and the battle among the candidates who did run for the large network of financial backers that he had developed was particularly fierce. Late in the race, though, Romney took on a more interesting role as a tough critic of Donald Trump. In March 2016, for example, Romney delivered a widely covered speech that was nothing less than  a blistering attack on Trump that was particularly biting and quite frankly stronger than anything any of the 2016 candidates were saying at the time. Unfortunately, that speech and other moves by Romney came far too late in the process and did little to halt the momentum that Trump had built up that eventually won him the nomination. The speech did, however, lead to speculation about  Romney stepping into the nomination fight at the last minute as part of an effort to stop Trump on the floor of the Republican National Convention, or even to run against him as an independent conservative alternative to Trump None of that speculation came true, of course, but it did indicate the extent to which Romney was still operating behind the scenes. Additionally, Romney was among the handful of top Republicans who declined to formally endorse Trump prior to the General Election and, much like the Bush family, there were rumors that he preferred Hillary Clinton to the Republican nominee. Despite that antipathy between Romney and Trump, Romney’s name was in the news again after the election with the possibility that he would be named Trump’s choice for Secretary of State. Were he to win election to the Senate, one wonders if Romney would return to his role as a Trump critic and, perhaps, a force in propelling some kind of challenge to Trump from within the party in the years ahead.


FILED UNDER: 2018 Election, The Presidency, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Gustopher says:

    He is a loser. I wish he would just go away.

    I mean, that’s what we say about all failed Presidential candidates, right? It’s not just that Clinton is a woman, or something, right? He’s also been just as inauthentic as Hillary Clinton, he’s just been better at it.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    When I first saw that title I read it as “Mitt Romney for Sale”. My first thought was. “Well, duhhhhh.”

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Were he to win election to the Senate, one wonders if Romney would return to his role as a Trump critic and, perhaps, a force in propelling some kind of challenge to Trump from within the party in the years ahead.

    I don’t have to wonder, the answer is No. Just No. Romney is a windsock.

  4. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Before we go all goo-goo about the oh-so-courageous Mittster, remember that this was the guy who, back in 2012, solicited Trump’s endorsement and thereby gave Trump a boost in the Republican Party from comic relief to serious contender. Romney was spineless then and there’s no doubt that he’ll be spineless again once he’s back in campaign mode.

  5. Argon says:


    Me too!

  6. Kylopod says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: I agree 100%. It must be remembered, though, that Trump is extremely unpopular in Utah. He got creamed in the primary and didn’t win a majority in the general election, in a state that had gone to Romney by 72% in the previous cycle. Romney doesn’t need a backbone in order to know who he represents.

  7. MBunge says:

    If there’s one opponent Trump would love to have in the Senate, it would be Mitt “47% of the American public are parasites” Romney.


  8. Scott says:

    Although I probably disagree with Romney on many issues, he is not a lunkhead and would be a perfectly acceptable Senator. In fact, i will go out on a limb and say he may be the male conservative analogue of Hillary Clinton. Lousy politician, decent technocrat.

  9. Kylopod says:

    @Scott: Romney acted as a decent technocrat when he was governor of a blue state working together with a Democratic legislature at a time when universal health care via subsidies and an individual mandate wasn’t such a controversial idea on the right. (A lot of people forget that during his first presidential run in 2008 he was actually the favorite candidate of the talk-radio gabbers like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Ingraham. Future Tea Party star Jim DeMint declared at the time that Romneycare might be a suitable model on a federal level. Try wrapping your head around that fact.) I doubt we’d see those traits if he were to join a Republican Senate under a Republican president today. For instance, imagine him in the Senate during the Obamacare repeal fiasco: I’d bet good money he’d just docilely accept whatever bill they’d throw at him.

  10. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Indeed! Exactly what I was thinking.

  11. al-Ameda says:


    If there’s one opponent Trump would love to have in the Senate, it would be Mitt “47% of the American public are parasites” Romney.

    None of that stuff matters any more, Mike.
    Trump broke the seal on the “it’s only words” rationalization. From here on in, for the foreseeable future, actual words do not necessarily make a difference.

  12. Kay says:
  13. Kylopod says:

    @Kay: Tell me, are Jim DeMint and Rush Limbaugh liberals?

    “[T]he governor just looked at the numbers like a good businessman and realized that we could give people private insurance policies cheaper than we could provide free health care. And what that does is spread out the risk; it gets the government out of the health care business and actually makes the health care system work a lot better.” — Jim DeMint, 2007

    “I think now, based on the way the campaign has shaken out, that there probably is a candidate on our side who does embody all three legs of the conservative stool, and that’s Romney.” — Rush Limbaugh, 2008