Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), announced last week he would retire at the end of the year, marking the end of his 40-year tenure in Congress. Along with his announcement was an immediate revival of the long-running rumor that former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, would seek the seat.
Romney posted on Twitter shortly after Hatch’s statement:
I join the people of Utah in thanking my friend, Senator Orrin Hatch for his more than forty years of service to our great state and nation. Read my full statement: https://t.co/YwjUpjez5y
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) 2 January 2018
Romney, a resident of Utah since 2015 (even though his Twitter didn’t reflect that until Tuesday), slowly but surely returned back to political activities in 2016 as Donald Trump was becoming the leader of the Republican Party’s 2016 field, even publicly speaking out against him in February 2016. He has been eyeing a potential return to elected office for some time now, and last year, after being passed up by Trump for the Secretary of State job, it was reported that he told close friends he would run for Hatch’s seat if Hatch were to retire.
His time, it seems, is now.
Romney’s Path to Victory
Considering the current state of the Republican Party, Romney is an outlier. While he rose to prominence as a moderate Republican in the deeply blue northeast, he now finds himself a member of a party that has made a dramatic leap to the right since he ran in 2012.
But, while he may not be a favorite among Republicans nationwide, he is popular in Utah, with an approval rating of 71% as of last February. Utah, you’ll remember, only gave Trump 45% of the vote in 2016, with 21.5% voting for independent Evan McMullin. It is clearly a conservative state, but a moderate one as well. Romney’s popularity with both the voters and the state’s political establishment would mix well with the state’s political attitudes, thus producing a likely win.
Yup, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation … pic.twitter.com/VC9XZblMGY
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) 30 November 2016
If Mr. Romney Goes to Washington
A Senator Romney would be a valuable addition to the upper house. He’s shown a willingness to speak out against President Trump at a time when many Senators have succumbed to the pressure of the administration and toned down their opposition. This doesn’t mean, however, that Romney would vote against the President simply out of spite, as some on the left have speculated. In fact, he would likely be a much-needed voice of reason on so many of today’s chief issues facing the government and would yield support or opposition based on the merits. Democrats would likely end up surprised by how effectively he would work with his colleagues, and the president, to develop level-headed conservative reforms.
Speaking of policy, much of his platform from 2012 is still relevant and needed today. The now infamous debate moment between him and President Obama, in which Romney identified Russia as one of America’s biggest geopolitical threats, seemed like an odd claim in 2012. But in 2018, as news of Russian involvement in U.S. elections and the Trump administration grows, it’s clear that Romney was correct.
Additionally, he’s a fiscal hawk who could help craft a plan of cutting and balancing the budget. That’s the piece that was missing from the recent Republican tax bill: tax rates went down, but there was no plan for similar decreases in federal spending.
If Romney were to run, I have strong doubts that he would be doing so with the intention of running for the White House in the future. Instead, he’s a man who understands that such an opportunity has passed, and is now focused on serving his state and country the best he can. He’s witnessing the troubling path that American politics is going down and refuses to sit idly by. He’s not a perfect conservative, nor does he hold all the right answers, but he is a man of good character who is needed in Washington. Even former Vice President Joe Biden agrees.
Run, Mitt, run.