Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announced on Tuesday afternoon that he will not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2018.
“Although I will miss serving you in the senate, I look forward to spending more time with my family,” Hatch said in a video published to his Twitter account.
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) January 2, 2018
Hatch’s announcement comes after he led Senate Republicans to pass tax cut legislation last month as chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He is one of the most senior members in the Senate and has served as a senator for four decades.
His retirement clears the way for Mitt Romney to launch a Senate bid. TPM reported in October that Hatch was seriously considering retirement and that he told Romney he would support him should Romney run for the Senate seat. Romney is leaning toward a Senate run, and is especially motivated to do so with the retirements of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), two outspoken Trump critics.
Should he run for Hatch’s seat, Romney could face opposition from Trump allies like Steve Bannon, who reportedly opposes Romney as the GOP nominee for the seat.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would not say whether Trump will campaign for the Republican nominee for the Utah Senate seat.
“I don’t think we’ve made a determination in terms of campaigning but the President certainly has the greatest and deepest amount of respect for Sen. Hatch and his over four decades of experience in the Senate,” Sanders said at the daily press briefing when asked if Trump was sad to see Hatch retire and if the President would campaign for the GOP nominee for the Utah Senate seat. “He’s particularly thankful for the senator’s leadership and massive effort that he played and the role that he played in getting the tax cut and reform package passed, and the President certainly praises his service and is very sad to see Sen. Hatch leave, and knows that he will certainly be missed.”