Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said Tuesday he will not seek re-election after serving more than 40 years in the Senate, opening the door for former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to run for his seat. (Jan. 2)
WASHINGTON â€” Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch,Â the most senior RepublicanÂ in the Senate,Â announced Tuesday he intends to retire at the end of his term.
â€œWhen the president visited Utah last month, he said I was a fighter,” Hatch said in a video posted on his Twitter account.Â Â “I was an amateur boxer in my youth and Iâ€™ve brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington, but every good fighter knows when to hang up theÂ gloves and for me that time is soon approaching.
â€œAfter much prayer and discussion with family and friends, Iâ€™ve decided to retire at the end of this term,” Hatch said.
Hatch is currently in his seventh term â€” first elected in 1976 â€” and is the Senate president pro tempore. In his video address Hatch said he’s “authored more bills that have become law than any member of Congress alive today.”
The Utah Republican is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Republicans on that committee led the Senate effort to overhaul the tax system which passed last month, the only major legislative accomplishment of the GOP Congress.
Hatch was popular in the state, and won withÂ 65% of the vote in his 2012 re-election.
Sen. Mike Lee, Hatch’s counterpart from the state, said that Hatch would be “sorely missed.”Â
Sen. Hatch has been a tremendous servant to the people of Utah and he will be sorely missed. It has truly been an honor serving with him in the United States Senate and I know he will continue to do fantastic work for Utahns.
â€” Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) January 2, 2018
Former 2012 Republican presidential candidate â€” and frequentÂ critic of President Trump â€” Mitt Romney is expected to consider runningÂ for the seat. Trump had encouraged Hatch to run for re-election.
Evan McMullin, a 2016 presidential candidate from Utah who has also been critical of Trump, immediately urged Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts,Â to step into the race.Â
Romney weighed in on Hatch’s retirement Tuesday afternoon, but did not address his own political future.Â
Hatch’s announcement comes the same day Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Bill Shuster,Â chairman ofÂ the House Transportation Committee, announced he also would bow out at the end of his term this year.