Utah's Hatch to retire, opening door to possible Romney run

Published on January 02, 2018 at 01:28PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said Tuesday he will not seek re-election after serving more than 40 years in the Senate, opening the door for former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to run for his seat.

Hatch, 83, said he’s always been a fighter, “but every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves.”

Hatch is the longest-serving Republican in the Senate. He chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee and was a major force in getting a tax overhaul through Congress and signed into law in December.

He also played a key role in persuading President Donald Trump to sign proclamations scaling back two sprawling national monuments in Utah that Hatch and other conservatives considered example of government overreach.

In a statement, Hatch said he decided to retire at the end of his seventh term after “much prayer and discussion with family and friends” over the holiday break.

“I may be leaving the Senate, but the next chapter in my public service is just beginning,” Hatch said.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who now lives in Utah, has been eyeing a Senate run, but Trump had encouraged Hatch to seek re-election.

Amid earlier speculation about Hatch’s plans, the Utah senator stepped up to defend Romney, a fellow Mormon, against an attack by former White House adviser Steve Bannon.