Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is not running for re-election, an announcement which immediately renewed rumors that former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will run for the open seat. His path would be pretty crystal clear, it seems.
Mr. Hatch’s decision clears the way for the political resurrection of Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee who is now a Utah resident and is popular in the Mormon-heavy state. Mr. Romney has told associates he would likely run if Mr. Hatch retires.
Hatch, 83, is the longest serving Senate Republican, having served seven terms. He reportedly decided to retire after speaking with his family and praying during the holiday break.
"Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves," Hatch said in a video message released on Tuesday.
Hatch reflected on his proudest achievements, particularly his part in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which protects the religious liberty of all Americans, he explained.
President Trump, who last month traveled with Hatch to Utah to shrink two of the state's national monuments, said at the time he hoped the senator would “continue to serve" his state and country in the Senate "for a very long time to come.”
Hatch said he was "grateful" to have served, but is looking forward to spending more time with his family.