UtahPolicy.com started a Hatch/Mitt political news firestorm Monday when we reported Hatch is likely to retire next year and former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is seriously interested in running for that open U.S. Senate seat.
Those with short memories may not recall that we said much the same thing last May 25 – but the fickle fate of internet news did almost nothing with that story.
Monday was different.
Dozens of national and local media outlets followed our story this week.
Perhaps this was because it is later in the election cycle, so more news organizations are interested this time around.
Maybe because our Monday story came with a new Dan Jones & Associates poll showing Hatch losing to Democrat Jenny Wilson, while a Romney/Wilson match-up shows the former GOP Massachusetts governor killing her.
In any case, now the media apparently agrees that Hatch is likely out and that Mitt is thinking about it.
So, the main question I’m hearing is: Why would Romney, the former governor of a major state and Republican presidential nominee in 2012, want to be a junior senator from a small state like Utah?
Well, the obvious answer is that Romney could walk into an open Utah Senate seat – wouldn’t have to run much of a campaign or get beat up to get the seat.
Jones’ current and previous polls show Romney – hero of the 2002 Winter Games successes – is beloved here.
But would Romney – certainly a man of national, or even international, stature – really want to be the junior senator from little ole Utah?
And I say yes.
For Romney would not be your normal U.S. Senate freshman. He would come into the 100-member Senate with already earned credentials.
And have before him a national platform to do any number of things.
In short, he wouldn’t be a guy worrying about the size of a new national monument in southeastern Utah.
He could be much more.
The national Republican Party is in real trouble.
It is in immediate trouble because GOP President Donald Trump is a flake of “bigly” proportions.
Reasonable GOP members of Congress and Senators are going to have to stand up to him.
Romney could well be a leader in that effort – and he wouldn’t get much negative feedback from Utah Republicans who don’t like Trump much anyway.
But way beyond that, someone – anyone? – must attempt to take a national leadership role in reforming – or reclaiming – the Republican Party.
No one is trying to do that, that I can see.
But Romney could be that man, if he wants the huge task and is willing to put in the time and effort.
American Republicans, you see, may look like they are doing wonderful. After all, they hold most of the governorships, many state legislatures, the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate and the White House.
But while all true today, the future of the party is problematic.
Younger Americans aren’t much interested in any partisan political parties. But their moral and political values are definitely more moderate and liberal – and not with the angry, white-man Republican bosses of today.
The future generation of Americans doesn’t worry about gay rights. They embrace them.
They don’t worry about abortion. Live and let live is clearly their lifestyle and motto.
Trump’s Electoral College victory was a fluke – 80,000 voters in three combined states gave him the White House, while Democrat Hillary Clinton beat him by 3.5 million votes nationwide.
As more and more states move towards bipartisan/nonpartisan independent redistricting commissions, (one may be on the ballot in Utah in 2018), within 10 or 20 years GOP state legislatures won’t be able to gerrymander Republican majorities into the U.S. House.
Today, Republicans don’t seem to be able to govern in the U.S. House or Senate – and now Trump is turning to a “coalition of the middle,” made up of reasonable Republicans and Democrats, to get what he wants through Congress.
Romney – with his personal and political smarts – can be a big part of what is needed in Washington over the next three years of Trump, and what follows — what is needed to remake the national Republican Party over the next decade.
For a healthy 70-year-old who is bored with retired life, already made more money than he can reasonably spend, was good at politics for a long time, and misses the arena, why not?
He can hire experienced, good staff to take care of constituent work and attend Lincoln Day dinners.
There is a real need for national Republican Party renewal; for finding workable solutions to big, difficult problems.