Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is prepared to run for the Senate in Utah if GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch decides to retire, according to the website UtahPolicy.com.
“Sources close to Romney say the two-time presidential candidate will jump into the 2018 Utah Senate scrum if Hatch opts not to,” the outlet said Monday.
Hatch, 83, hasn’t decided yet whether he will run for an eighth term. Sources told UtahPolicy.com that Hatch “may not make up his mind until December.”
Romney, the first-ever Mormon to secure a major-party presidential nomination, would likely be the outright front-runner if he does decide to enter the race. He is widely popular in Utah and among its large Mormon community.
Hatch, however, has said Romney told him he does not plan to run for Senate.
“I’ve talked to Mitt Romney. He’s not going to run for this seat. I would be glad for him if he would,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill earlier this year.
Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock also poured cold water on the report in a statement to HuffPost.
“As much as we love to support our local media outlets, this is the 3rd or 4th time we have seen this same report without any new sources or any new information,” Whitlock said. “Nothing has changed, Senator Hatch is focused on the critical work of the Senate, and he plans to make a final decision by the end of the year.”
BuzzFeed News reporter McKay Coppins, who first reported in April that Romney, 70, was exploring a Senate bid, speculated about the timing of the UtahPolicy.com report on Twitter, writing that Romney loyalists are likely “pushing the idea and want to get some traction in Utah.”