Romney tells close associates ‘I’m running’

Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has reportedly told close associates that he is running for Utah’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2018.

The New York Times reports Romney assured Gov. Gary Herbert, that he will launch a candidacy for the seat sometime this year.

A few days after Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah announced that he would conclude his tenure after serving 42 years in office, the state’s governor, Gary Herbert, was growing anxious about whether Mitt Romney would run for the seat.


“Let’s not be coy about this,” Mr. Herbert said he told a close Romney friend and prominent business leader, Kem Gardner. “If he’s going to run, let’s go. If not, we need to find somebody else to run, and there’s people that have been trying to queue up for the opportunity.”


Last Saturday, Mr. Gardner called the governor and read from a text that Mr. Romney had offered: “I’m running.”

The story confirms reporting by that Herbert was worried an extreme right-wing candidate could possibly win the seat, especially if Hatch had stayed in the race.

The rest of the Times’s story discusses whether Romney would be an ally or foe of President Trump.

Some Republicans here see Mr. Romney’s ascent to the Senate as only the first step. Mr. Herbert said he “can accelerate” and become Senate Republican leader. Daniel Hemmert, a state senator who last year began a Draft Romney effort, went further, suggesting that if Mr. Trump is damaged or does not run again in 2020, the party should turn to the freshman senator from Utah.


Mr. Romney “has to be at the top of that list,” Mr. Hemmert said.


That is precisely why Mr. Trump aggressively wooed Mr. Hatch to run for an eighth term, even flying the 83-year-old senator out to Salt Lake City last month, hoping to block Mr. Romney’s return.