Utah GOP Chairman Rob Anderson says he’s had no contact with Mitt Romney since speculation began swirling that he would run for U.S. Senate but it’s been radio silence on the other end.
Romney will announce he’s running for the U.S. Senate on Thursday and will be the keynote speaker for the Utah County GOP’s Lincoln Day fundraiser on Friday.
Anderson says he’s reached out to Romney through intermediaries several times with zero luck.
“I haven’t heard a word from him,” says Anderson.
Anderson says that lack of contact is telling about how he will approach the upcoming campaign.
“It says his campaign doesn’t consider the Utah Republican Party an important part of his ability to win elections,” says Anderson. “I don’t understand that.”
Anderson says he’s not against a Romney candidacy, and won’t label him with the dreaded “RINO” tag (Republican in name only), but the former Massachusetts governor does owe some explanation to Utah voters.
“Here’s a guy that is from outside of Utah that apparently has victory in hand,” he said. “Why does he want to run for this seat? How does he explain to voters that he understands them when he doesn’t spend the majority of his time here while they live and work and shop in Utah?”
Romney will likely cruise to the GOP nomination and victory in November. Polls show he would demolish his potential competition at the ballot box.
The GOP chairman also said Romney’s jumping into the race has kept several other “quality” candidates who would have had a good chance at winning out of the fray because a loss this year in a GOP primary might hurt their chances of winning other elections in the future.
Romney is expected to use SB54’s signature gathering route to get on the GOP primary ballot. Anderson says the lack of communication with party leadership from Romney makes him wonder if Romney is going to skip the caucus/convention route altogether.
“I think if he was serious about the caucus route, I hope I would have heard from him by now,” said Anderson.
Anderson didn’t think Romney’s candidacy is a harbinger of the end of the caucus system in Utah, with wealthy/well-known candidates doing an end-run around the convention, then winning the GOP nomination.
“Romney is a different animal,” says Anderson.
Anderson released a statement this afternoon saying he apologized for any disparaging remarks he had made toward Romney. He also said he and Romney spoke Wednesday afternoon. He offered an apology to Romney during the conversation, which was accepted.