Senator Hatch announces retirement, prompting Romney run rumors
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has announced he won’t seek re-election this fall after 40 years in the Senate. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is rumored to be planning a run for Hatch’s seat.
“When the president visited Utah last month, he said I was a fighter. I’ve always been a fighter. I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit to Washington,” said Hatch Tuesday, announcing his retirement from political life. “But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves… I have decided to retire at the end of this term.”
The 83-year-old Republican, the "scrappy son of a carpenter,” has served over four decades in Congress. His announcement comes a little over a week after the Republican tax plan that he helped craft was signed into law.
President Donald Trump has the “greatest and deepest amount of respect for Senator Hatch,” and is “very sad to see [him] leave,” the White House press secretary told reporters Tuesday, thanking Hatch for his role in getting the tax reform approved in Congress.
In his announcement, posted on Twitter, Hatch highlighted his most significant achievements in Congress, and said he would continue to work in public service once he retired.
“I authored more bills that have become law than any member of Congress alive today,“ he boasted. “I played a central role in the creation of the modern generic drug industry, and the passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Hatch said he also played a role in every confirmation of every current member of the US Supreme Court, and helped in the passage of the Trump administration’s tax reform cut bill.
Hatch either chaired or was the ranking GOPer on the Senate Judiciary Cmte for yrs. Was top GOPer on Cmte during Clarence Thomas confirmation hrngs & argued against re-opening the hrngs when Anita Hill came forward— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) January 2, 2018
He was most proud of the the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which “guarantees vigorous religious liberty protections for all Americans.”
Hatch joined the Senate in 1977. Of the current members, only Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), has served longer.
Former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney was considering running for Hatch’s seat, according to CNBC.
President Trump's approval rating in Utah was 45 percent and Mitt Romney's was 69 percent in last month's Utah Policy poll https://t.co/xIT7e5PkNv— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) January 2, 2018
Names to watch to succeed Hatch: Mitt Romney along w/GOP UT Reps Chris Stewart & Mia Love— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) January 2, 2018
GOP nomination for Hatch’s seat would be Romney’s to lose. But if he doesn’t want it, look at GOP UT Reps Stewart & Love. Maybe Evan McMulln. Love has a competive Hse race against Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. Could fare better statewide— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) January 2, 2018
Unlike Hatch, who has been supportive of the Trump administration, Romney is an outspoken critic of the president.
"Senator Hatch has represented the interests of Utah with distinction and honor," Romney said in a Facebook post Tuesday. He did not address whether he plans to run for the seat though. He has until March 15 to file candidacy papers if he chooses to go through with it.
“I haven’t spoken directly to the governor about his intentions, but I do think he maintains a desire to serve the public,” Ryan Williams, a former aide to Romney’s presidential campaign, told The Hill last week. “I think if an opportunity arose he would seriously consider it.”