The big announcement will happen tomorrow according to multiple reports and Romney won’t be making a speech, he plans to announce his run with a video on social media. From the Associated Press:
Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will announce Thursday that he’s running for the Utah Senate seat held by retiring Orrin Hatch, three people with direct knowledge of the plan confirmed Wednesday.
He’ll be a heavy favorite to keep the seat in Republican hands.
The 70-year-old Romney, once a harsh critic of President Donald Trump, will release an online video Thursday announcing his Senate bid. His first public appearance as a Senate candidate will come Friday night at a county Republican dinner in Provo.
This isn’t a surprise of any kind at this point (unless you consider the social media announcement a surprise). Last month the NY Times reported that Romney had texted a friend to say, “I’m running.” And earlier this month, the Boston Globe reported that retiring Senator Orrin Hatch had picked Romney as his chosen successor:
“I told him it was likely I would retire, and I’d sure like to have him succeed me,” Hatch, a senator since 1977, said in an interview. “It would be good for Utah, it would be good for the country. And he could continue his life of public service in a way that would have great meaning.”…
“As I was thinking about retiring I was thinking, ‘I don’t want some dud to replace me,’” Hatch said. “I want somebody who’s capable and could carry on some of the things I’ve worked so hard to do. And Romney fits that bill 100 percent in my opinion.
“He would be low in seniority,” Hatch added. “But he would have immediate attention because of his personality, his attractive appearance and ability to speak, and the experiences he’s had.”
But it seems not everyone is on board with Hatch’s plan. Utah’s GOP Chairman is trashing Romney in advance of his announcement. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
“I think he’s keeping out candidates that I think would be a better fit for Utah because, let’s face it, Mitt Romney doesn’t live here, his kids weren’t born here, he doesn’t shop here,” Rob Anderson told The Salt Lake Tribune in an interview…
“I have two questions for Mitt. First of all, why? And how do you expect to represent Utah when you don’t live here?”
Nationally, the real interest in this seems to be Romney’s potential to become a voice of the GOP opposition to Trump within the Senate. Ed already poured some well-deserved cold water on that last month. However, I will say that having him in office would create an opportunity for the media to run to him after each and every Trump tweet for his instant reaction. Romney may not be looking to set himself up as an opponent but that doesn’t mean the media won’t try to set him up as one. My guess is that Romney will politely decline, thus disappointing a lot of people who see him as a possible savior for the GOP brand.
Congress could be a very different place after the 2018 elections. If Democrats take either chamber, Trump’s agenda won’t be on the table anymore and someone like Romney might feel a little more free to express himself knowing he’s not actually the person preventing the party from getting things done.