For the past several months, Romney has been playing a “will he or won’t he” game with the media, as in will Romney politely shove his friend Orrin Hatch out of the Senate or won’t he. Hatch is up for re-election in 2018 and hasn’t made up his mind yet about retirement. This has created a situation in which no one in Hatch’s party really wants him to run—at 83 years old, he would be serving in his eighth term in the Senate—but everyone is too cowardly to say so to his face.
On Monday, Hatch got another nudge toward the door. UtahPolicy reported that Romney is gearing up for a run if Hatch retires. This comes on the heels of The Atlantic reporting in April that Utah Republicans fear that Hatch, facing low poll numbers, is open to a primary challenge from the right. According to one survey, nearly eight out of ten Utah voters don’t want Hatch to run for reelection. As an unnamed top Utah Republican told The Atlantic, “We’ll support Orrin if he runs but we really hope he doesn’t.”
In April, Hatch said that “Mitt Romney would be perfect” as a successor. Then in May, he insisted that Romney wasn’t running: “I’ve chatted with Mitt, and he’s not going to run for the Senate.” But the UtahPolicy report is evidence that Romney himself seems to have made up his mind. Will Hatch take the hint?