Tuesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch, of Utah, the longest-serving Republican senator in United States history, announced in a video Tuesday afternoon that he will be retiring when his term ends in January 2019.
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, should he decide to run.
Hatch’s retirement announcement comes as a blow to President Trump, as he has been a solid supporter to the president, and Romney has been a frequent critic of Trump.
Within minutes after Hatch’s announcement, Romney issued a statement on social media, thanking Hatch for his 40+ years of service to the nation, but did not include any announcement about his own intentions.
“I join the people of Utah in thanking my friend, Senator Orrin Hatch for his more than forty years of service to our great state and nation. As Chairman of the Senate Finance and Judiciary Committees and as the longest-serving Republican Senator in U.S. history, Senator Hatch has represented the interests of Utah with distinction and honor. Ann and I wish Senator Orrin Hatch and his loving wife Elaine all the best in their future endeavors.”
I join the people of Utah in thanking my friend, Senator Orrin Hatch for his more than forty years of service to our great state and nation. Read my full statement: https://t.co/YwjUpjez5y
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) January 2, 2018