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Our "Political Insiders" think Sen. Orrin Hatch is more likely than not to retire at the end of the year, and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney will jump into the race to replace him.

Last week, UtahPolicy.com reported that Romney was preparing to run for U.S. Senate if Hatch decides to retire. Hatch also confirmed our report that he was going to decide on his political future by the end of the year.

Our "Political Insiders" think it's more likely than not that Hatch decides against running for an eighth term in 2018. 

  • 72% of the Republicans we asked think Hatch will decide against another term.

  •  61% of the Democrats we queried said Hatch would retire.

  • 60% of our readers say Hatch will not run for another term next year.

Hatch has repeatedly said he is planning on running again next year if his or his wife's health holds out. Hatch will be 84 at the end of this term. He also vowed not to run again when he was elected to the Senate for the seventh time.

If Hatch calls it quits, our "Insider" panel is confident that former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney would be a candidate to replace him.

  • 73% of Republicans think Romney would run.

  • 77% of Democrats say Romney would be a candidate if Hatch retires.

  • 84% of UtahPolicy.com readers think Romney would run.

A UtahPolicy.com survey found that Romney would handily defeat Democrat Jenny Wilson in a head-to-head matchup if he does decide to run and win the GOP nomination.

Selected anonymous comments:

Hatch has done a good job, but 43 years is a ridiculously long time for anyone to serve as a US Senator. Please retire so there can be other ideas presented and discussed. Don't be so egotistical to think that you are the only person who has good solutions for the many challenges facing our country today.

Hatch will not retire. His ego will not let him. I have voted for him every time but will not in 2018. My vote will go to Jim Bennett.

I would like to see Hatch run again and finish out the remaining two years as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He can then retire, and Utah can hold a special election. The truth is Hatch is way too valuable to Utah right now to just step aside from such a powerful position. We would be left with Mike Lee as the senior Senator, and while he is a nice guy, he gets nothing passed and has absolutely no power. Romney would be an instant player on the floor of the Senate but would be junior on all committees, and he would not get the plum assignments that Hatch has.

Hatch can undoubtedly do much good and wield much influence, but most Utahns are ready for someone new.

Hatch is using Mitt Romney as a pawn to keep others out of the race until it's too late for a viable option. The games that are being played with our democracy are unfortunate and unAmerican.

Hatch was good for a long time, but he has overstayed his effectiveness.

Orrin has all but set this up by "endorsing" Mitt as his "chosen" successor.

As much as I'd like to see Hatch retire, there's little benefit if Romney is the one replacing him. Utah needs genuinely new representation, not the same old bad ideas and stubborn fealty to right-wing ideology.

Hatch has just been holding onto the re-election narrative until a "suitable" candidate comes along.

If Mitt Romney wants to be the junior US Senator from Utah at age 71 and diminish his son's chances of winning elected office in Utah he should go for it!

Hatch will run again much to the chagrin of a majority of Utahns.

Now that Mitt Romney (via surrogates) has expressed an interest in the race, Hatch is running out of excuses to run. I respect his distinguished service in Washington and have to believe that he can see the writing on the wall and will step out now that Mitt wants in.

Mitt Romney will make an excellent senator! I can't wait to vote for him!

Senator Hatch has served Utah with distinction. It is time for him to be a man of his word and call this term his last.

When officials even consider the option of running again after previously campaigning on the platform that it will be their last term, it doesn't instill confidence in that candidate's integrity.

Hatch's ego will not allow him to keep his word and not run again. If he does run, he'll lose. If by chance he doesn't run, Romney will and will have the seat given to him on the proverbial silver platter.

Utahns are being too quick to dismiss Senator Hatch. Even with Mitt Romney in the Senate, Utah will not have again in the next century the strength it currently has in D.C. with Orrin Hatch. Based on our current presidential situation, Senator Hatch's chairmanship and seniority, and based on Hatch's productivity, Utah would be truly lucky for Senator Hatch to run for another term!

Hatch is holding onto his Senate seat to pick his replacement. It is already too late for candidates to launch successful bids against him, except Mitt Romney who has name recognition and MONEY.

Hatch promised us that this would be his last term. I will not support him for yet another term, although the power he has is intoxicating. It's time for him to step aside, as he promised he would do.

Hatch will run and win as many times as he wants and there is nothing that can stop him.

We owe Sen Hatch much gratitude but to protect his legacy he needs to step aside, that would be a courageous example of statesmanship. I like the sound of Senator Romney, sort of just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Senator Hatch is just trying to retain influence on tax reform, but once that issue is resolved ( for better or for worse), he'll make the announcement that he's not running.

It's probably the only way in which Hatch will retire. Having Mitt Romney jump into the national political mix will certainly be interesting as Congress interacts with President Trump.

The latest Romney rumors are almost certainly coming from the Hatch camp. It benefits him to keep everyone at bay by dangling Romney's name and maybe Hatch's support for Josh Romney is all it would take in return. Hatch should be careful because he still may lose even if he tries every trick to clear the field. Polls show clearly that it's time to call it quits.

Senator Hatch will retire, he just doesn't want to be a lame duck too early. Mitt Romney needs to allow a new generation of Republican leaders to step forward. He has had his time and served this country well, but his time is over.

Since CMV screwed over the delegate system Hatch will buy his way onto the ballot and use his fame and fortune to win another election.

Hatch loves the power too much to retire, especially now that Trump is courting him to be his "go to" guy.