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Hatch Still Coy On Retirement Plans As Romney Rumors Swirl

Julia Ritchey, KUER
Now in his seventh term, Sen. Orrin Hatch is the longest serving GOP senator.

Sen. Orrin Hatch says he's still weighing a 2018 re-election run.

Hatch’s spokesman says the 83-year-old senator will make a final decision about his re-election plans by the end of the year.   

The clarification comes after the website Utah Policy published a report Monday that said Mitt Romney is seriously preparing for a run in the event Hatch retires.

Nothing has changed, Senator Hatch is focused on the critical work of the Senate, and he plans to make a final decision by the end of the year. - Matthew Whitlock, communications director for Sen. Orrin Hatch

Hatch told news outlets earlier this year he would feel better about stepping down if Romney ran in his place. Hatch is the longest serving GOP senator with more than four decades in the chamber.

Romney has been rumored to be interested in the seat ever since President Trump passed him over for Secretary of State in favor of Rex Tillerson.

A new poll shows Romney would likely beat Democrat Jenny Wilson, the leading Democratic candidate so far in the race.

The Dan Jones & Associates survey of 600 registered Utahns showed Romney beating Wilson 64 percent to 26 percent in a 2018 matchup.

He also performed better than two other potential Republican candidates. That includes Congressman Chris Stewart and Utah Valley University president Matthew Holland.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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