Senator Orrin Hatch Announces Plan to Retire

Tribune Editorial Why Orrin Hatch is Utahn of the Year

Mitt Romney talks to media after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in November 2016.

"You are a true fighter, Orrin, I have to say", Trump said at an event in Salt Lake City, Utah's capital last month.

Many conservatives applauded Hatch's record over his seven terms in the Senate, but at 83 years old, it is probably time for Hatch to enjoy retirement.

Hatch says he chose to retire at the end of his seventh term after "much prayer and discussion with family and friends" over the holiday break.

When the president visited Utah last month, he said I was a fighter. Hatch's announcement came only days after the Republican tax plan that he helped to craft got signed into law.

Mr. Hatch's decision clears the way for the political resurrection of Mr. Romney, the former MA governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee who is now a Utah resident and is popular in the Mormon-heavy state.

In the statement announcing his decision to retire, Hatch cited work helping create the Americans with Disabilities Act, expanding children's health insurance and expanding use of generic drugs.

He blasted Trump during the 2016 campaign, delivering a speech calling him "a phony, a fraud".

Trump has been a longtime Romney critic despite offering a 2012 presidential endorsement, and Romney has been outspoken in his dissent over Trump's rhetoric and policies, calling on Republicans to block Trump's path to the presidency. The two had something of a rapprochement after the election when Mr. Romney was briefly considered as secretary of state, but White House advisers are uneasy about having such a well-known critic in the Senate.

Romney has until March 15 to file for Hatch's seat. In contrast, Romney carried Utah with almost 73 percent of the vote in the 2012 presidential election.

Romney, the former MA governor who now lives in Utah, has been eyeing a Senate run, but President Donald Trump had encouraged Hatch to seek re-election. "If he doesn't, the voters should end it for him", the editorial concluded.

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