Report: Hatch tells friends he plans to retire

Sen. Orrin Hatch is reportedly telling friends and allies that he plans to retire at the end of his term.

The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins reports on Friday that five sources have told him that Hatch is getting ready to step down at the end of the current term, his seventh. Additionally, as previously reported in, Mitt Romney plans to run for the seat if Hatch does follow through on the retirement plan.

Sources close to both men said plans have already been set in motion for Hatch to retire and for Romney to run, but they cautioned that the timing of the announcements have not yet been finalized, and that either man could still change his mind. They spoke on condition of anonymity, because the plans are not yet public, and the subject is sensitive to Hatch. Already, though, the expected developments are reshaping the state’s political landscape.


Derek Miller, the CEO of Utah’s World Trade Center who said he was exploring a bid for the seat earlier this year, said the plan for Romney to run had been “reported to me as a ‘done deal.’” He added, “if Romney runs, I will fully support him.”

A survey from September found if Romney runs, he would handily beat Democrat Jenny Wilson. Rep. Chris Stewart has also said he would be interested in running for the Senate seat if Hatch retires.

Hatch seems to be vulnerable to a primary challenge this year. A Salt Lake Tribune poll found that 3/4ths of Utahns do not want Hatch to run for another term in 2018, while a survey showed Hatch’s approval ratings were in negative territory, with 50% of Utahns disapproving of Hatch’s job performance.

Earlier this month, former White House strategist Steve Bannon said he was going to recruit a primary challenger for Hatch in Utah, and Sutherland Institute President Boyd Matheson said he met with Bannon ahead of a possible Senate run next year.

Hatch has publicly remained noncommittal about his future, saying he intends to run for another term as long as his, or his wife’s health does not take a turn downward. Hatch has said he will make a final decision about his future in December or January.

Meanwhile, Hatch’s campaign fundraising is showing no signs of slowing down. Hatch pulled in nearly $1 million last quarter, leaving more than $4.5 million in his campaign account.