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Is Romney a Sure Bet for Orrin Hatch's Seat?

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Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, R-Utah (AP)

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Tuesday, 14 Nov 2017 09:17 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Republican sources in Utah and in D.C., are predicting Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah — after 41 years as a Republican senator and now president pro tempore of the Senate — will soon announce he will not seek re-election in 2018.

And they're betting Mitt Romney — at 70 and a resident of the Beehive State since his defeat for president in 2012 — will seek the all-important Republican nomination for Hatch's seat.

"Mitt envisions himself rebuilding the Senate, and the way it works just like he did for companies he took over when he ran Bain Capital," said one Salt Lake City Republican leader who requested anonymity. "And he'll join [Nebraska Sen.] Ben Sasse and [South Carolina Sen.] Lindsey Graham as part of the 'never Trump' caucus in the Senate."

Romney never endorsed Trump when Trump became the Republican nominee and has never hidden his distaste for the president. Never fully trusted by the more conservative wing of his party, the one-time Massachusetts governor tweeted Saturday he believed Leigh Corfman, who accused Alabama's Republican U.S. Senate nominee and conservative hero Roy Moore of being a sexual predator.

"Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections," Romney tweeted. "Roy Moore is unfit for office and should step aside."

As respected as Romney is in GOP circles, he is virtually assured of having opposition for the nomination from a variety of candidates to his right. Among the names mentioned are Reps. Chris Stewart and Mia Love, GOP National Committeeman Thomas Wright, and Boyd Matheson, former top aide to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and now head of the conservative Sutherland Institute.

Matheson has met with a wide range of thought leaders and influencers from Steve Bannon and David Bossie to Bill Kristol and George Will. When asked about his meetings, Matheson replied: "I may have discovered the one thing that unites the Trump-loyalists and the 'never-Trump' camps – complete frustration with the leadership of the United States Senate."

"I will make a final decision very soon," Matheson told Newsmax. "And my decision will not be based on what Sen. Hatch, Mitt or anyone else might do."

Until recently, Republican nominations were primarily the domain of Utah Republican state conventions. Delegates, usually considered more conservative than the average voter, would cast votes until there were two top vote-getters and then a primary would be held. If a candidate secured 65 percent of the convention vote, challengers were shut out of a primary.

But this recently changed. A citizens committee launched by moderate former Gov. and Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt, led the party to change its rules. Candidates are now permitted access to the primary by bypassing the convention and instead collecting petitions with signatures of registered Republican voters. Provo Mayor John Curtis, who won the open 3rd Congressional District in a special election last week, secured access to the primary ballot that way.

To get on the statewide primary ballot next year will require 28,000 signatures.

Should Romney win the Senate seat, he will be the first losing presidential nominee since Hubert Humphrey in 1970 to have come back after his defeat and become a freshman senator.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Mitt Romney — at 70 and a resident of the Beehive State since his defeat for president in 2012 — will seek the all-important Republican nomination for Sen. Orrin Hatch's, R-Utah, seat.
utah, orrin hatch, mitt romney
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2017-17-14
Tuesday, 14 Nov 2017 09:17 PM
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