Former White House strategist Steve Bannon is reportedly considering endorsing an eighth term by Sen. Orrin Hatch to block Mitt Romney from jumping into next year's Utah Senate race.
The Washington Examiner says Bannon, who once mulled finding a Republican challenger to take on Hatch next year, would much rather see Hatch run again than Mitt Romney enter the race.
“If Steve had a choice between Orrin Hatch and Mitt Romney, he would pick Hatch 10 times out of 10,” the source close to Bannon told the Washington Examiner.
Hatch advisors recently reached out to Bannon and spoke with the Breitbart News executive chairman about 2018, signaling the senator could be having second thoughts about retiring. In Utah, Bannon is willing to put aside his war with McConnell and embrace Hatch if it means blocking Romney, a traditional Republican who has the gravitas to rally considerable opposition to Trump from the Right.
"I think Steve Bannon has found his candidate in Utah," said a GOP insider there, referring to the senator.
Sutherland Institute president Boyd Matheson was considering a run for Senate against Hatch, but decided against that last month.
It has been widely reported that Hatch was planning to retire next year and Mitt Romney was preparing to run for Hatch's seat. However, it looks like Hatch has changed his mind. He has said repeatedly he plans to run for another term as long as his health holds out.
Hatch promised in 2012 when he ran for a seventh term that it would be his last.
A recent UtahPolicy.com survey finds that Hatch has a 15-point lead over Democrat Jenny Wilson in a hypothetical 2018 Senate matchup. Romney would lead Wilson by 51-points.