The longest-serving Republican senator in United States history, Orrin Hatch, of Utah, just announced in a video Tuesday afternoon that he will be retiring when his term ends in January 2019.
“For over 40 years, I’ve had the great honor of serving as your senator,” Hatch said in a video address to Utah voters.
Hatch, 83, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, had earlier said he would retire at the end of his term, but in recent weeks had indicated he might go ahead and run for an eight term.
His retirement will open the way for former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has expressed a strong interest in the seat if Hatch steps back. Romney has until March 15 to file for the seat.
Hatch has been a strong supporter to President Trump, who had encouraged him to run for reelection.
At an event celebrating the passage of the GOP tax reform bill, Hatch gave a heartfelt speech in tribute to Trump that many said moved them to tears.
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) January 2, 2018