As he widely telegraphed several weeks ago, on Friday morning Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, formally announced he will run for Senate in Utah: "I am running for United States Senate to serve the people of Utah and bring Utah's values to Washington" he tweeted.
I am running for United States Senate to serve the people of Utah and bring Utah's values to Washington. pic.twitter.com/TDkas6gD2p— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 16, 2018
Romney's full statement is below:
Today, Governor Mitt Romney announced his candidacy to represent Utah in the United States Senate.
"Utahns are known for hard work, innovation, and our can-do pioneering spirit. I am running for United States Senate because in these trying times there is no better moment to bring Utah's values to Washington. Utah's economic and political success is a model for our nation; I am ready to fight for this great state and advocate for solutions that improve the lives of Utahns," said Romney.
In the coming months, Romney plans to visit each of the state's 29 counties to talk with Utahns about their priorities, issues, and concerns. Utah's dual-track nomination process includes gathering signatures for a June primary and participating in the caucus and convention system. Romney plans to participate in both the signature gathering process and the state GOP convention in April.
As NBC notes, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee will aim to replace 83-year-old Sen. Orrin Hatch in November's election. The longtime senator announced his retirement in January even as Trump pushed him to run again.
Romney, 70, has a a strong chance to win the seat later this year. Though not a consistent Utah resident in years past, he has strong name recognition and is considered popular in the state. Romney is a Mormon who helped to reorganize the scandal-plagued 2002 Olympics Games in Salt Lake City.
The former governor would bring strong name recognition and influence as a first-term senator. While former aides expect Romney to push for conservative policies in the Senate, they also believe he will rebuke the president when necessary and potentially clash with him on some policies.
Romney likely would have backed the Republican tax law passed in December. But he may break with Trump on topics like relations with Russia and immigration.
Romney heavily criticized then-candidate Trump in a 2016 speech, calling him a "phony" and a "fraud." He warned that Trump would cause economic instability and endanger Americans abroad.
Later, Romney unsuccessfully interviewed to be Trump's secretary of State. Since, he has publicly rebuked Trump when he supported Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate accused of sexually abusing teenagers, and when the president reportedly questioned why the U.S. needed immigrants from "s---hole" African countries.
If he wins the seat and criticizes Trump while in office, he would mark a stark shift from Hatch. Hatch has heaped praise on the president in recent months, calling him a "heck of a leader" after the GOP passed its tax plan in December. Trump reportedly begged the 83-year old Hatch to run for re-election one more time.
Before entering politics, Romney led investment firm Bain Capital, a spin-off of Bain & Company. After his role in the Utah Olympics, he served as Massachusetts governor from 2003 to 2007
Romney unsuccessfully ran for president in 2008 before winning the GOP nomination in 2012.