Bob Bernick’s notebook: Why Romney needs to save Utah from a right-wing ‘nutcake’

Well, I’m halfway there with my Christmas wish from Santa: Sen. Orrin Hatch is not running for re-election this year.

Now I just need the jolly old fellow to produce the second half: Mitt Romney running for the Senate seat.

And I’m feeling pretty good about that one, too.

Just hours after Hatch’s announcement he will end his Senate career at seven terms, Romney’s Twitter account changed its location from Massachusetts (the governor’s former address) to Holladay, Utah, where he and his wife have lived for the past several years.

That’s just one indication that Romney will get into the 2018 now-open Senate race.

There are any number of reasons the 70-year-old Romney should run for this seat.

I won’t list them all except for this: Romney is a mainstream, reasonable Republican.

And it is sure a Republican will win this Utah seat.

So, in my view, it is better that a mainstream, reasonable person should be elected, rather than some right-wing nutcake who might win the GOP nomination without Romney in the race – and thus the seat.

From a purely political standpoint, this is Romney’s seat if he wants it.

I don’t see anyone other Republican beating him this year.

Romney not only is much beloved in Utah, but he also has something like $6 million left over from his Republican presidential campaign, which can be used for a Senate race in Utah.

But money has never been the issue for the multi-millionaire Romney, who could easily self-fund a $2 million or 4 million dollar race here.

Romney is simply too well liked in this Mormon/Republican-dominated state for anyone to beat him.

Let’s look at recent favorable ratings in a poll conducted by by Dan Jones & Associates:

— Romney has a favorable rating of 69-22 percent among all Utahns. That is a very good number.

— Republicans like him, 81-13 percent. Off the favorable charts.

— Political independents like him, 61-26 percent.

Any Democratic candidate could only hope to win a U.S. Senate seat here if he or she could get 60 percent or more of the independent vote.

But Romney has those numbers turned around.

— Hey, even half of all Utah Democrats (50 percent) have a favorable opinion of Romney; 39 percent disapprove of the former Republican presidential nominee.

Hatch and some other “mainstream” Republicans have problems with Utah’s right wing – the “very conservative” voters.

— Not Romney – those folks like him, 68-23 percent.

— Those who say they are “somewhat liberal” in their political philosophy like Romney, 55-27 percent.

— Romney is even liked by one-third (33 percent) of those who told Jones they are “very liberal” in their politics.

Finally, the Romney name is well-known and admired among Utah Mormons – Marion George Romney being a beloved apostle in the church in years gone by, a second cousin of Mitt.

– Mitt Romney is liked by “very active” Mormons (those who pay tithing and hold temple recommends), 81-19 percent.

Romney, in respect, may put off announcing his Senate candidacy until after next Friday’s funeral of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, who died Tuesday.

In any case, soon we’ll know Romney’s intent.

Come on, Santa; let’s make it a good 2018 for Utah’s mainstream, reasonable Republicans.