Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) made a significant announcement on Wednesday, revealing his decision to retire from the Senate when his current term concludes. This decision carries considerable implications for moderate Republicans and those who oppose former President Trump.
According to The Hill, in his official statement, Romney expressed his belief that it is time for a new generation of political leaders to take the reins. He stated, “I have dedicated the last 25 years to public service in various capacities. If I were to serve another term, I would be in my mid-eighties. Frankly, it is now the responsibility of a new generation of leaders to make the decisions that will shape the world they will inherit.”
Romney’s retirement, at the age of 76, effectively marks the conclusion of his political career, which includes his 2012 presidential election loss to former President Obama, his tenure as Massachusetts governor, and six years representing Utah in the Senate. His single term in the Senate will be remembered notably for his unique distinction as the only Senate Republican to vote to convict President Trump in both of his impeachment trials.
Romney had been contemplating his decision regarding a potential second term for several months and had initially planned to announce it in October. Senate GOP sources expressed little surprise but disappointment at his decision, given Romney’s involvement in critical negotiations during his time in office, particularly his work on the bipartisan infrastructure legislation in 2021. Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who frequently participated in major bipartisan discussions, expressed sadness at the news.
In the upcoming election, Romney would have faced a potentially challenging reelection campaign, as Utah State House Speaker Brad Wilson (R) had already declared his candidacy with the support of many conservative groups in the state. Trent Staggs, the mayor of Riverton, Utah, also entered the race.
According to a Utah GOP insider, more contenders may emerge, including Tim Ballard, the founder and former CEO of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization dedicated to combating sex trafficking and the inspiration for the controversial film “Sound of Freedom.” Two prominent figures with uncertain plans are former Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Robert C. O’Brien, who served as President Trump’s national security adviser towards the end of his term. Chaffetz has not ruled out a potential bid but has indicated a preference for pursuing the state’s governorship at some point. O’Brien recently relocated to Utah, enabling him to consider a run for office next year.
Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, pledged that the GOP would “nominate a candidate who will maintain Utah’s Republican stronghold in 2024.”
Romney also disclosed that his decision was influenced by his assessment of the coming six-year period, which he anticipates may be even less productive than his first term. He cited the dysfunction within House Republicans and perceived leadership shortcomings in both President Biden and former President Trump. Romney remarked, “It’s very difficult for the House to operate, from what I can tell, and perhaps more importantly, we’re probably going to have either Trump or Biden as our next president. And Biden is unable to lead on important matters and Trump is unwilling to lead on important matters.”Trump’s Top Enemy Retires