While Trump already has few friends in Congress among his own party, sources reveal that yet another member of the GOP is ready to pack it in following the announced retirements of Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
According to The Atlantic, Orrin Hatch has reportedly already told friends that he is not planning to run for reelection in 2018, leaving room for former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to run for his empty seat. Like Corker and Flake, Orrin Hatch has had many of his own problems with Trump’s policies and public missteps.
In August, Hatch was one of the few among the GOP to call Trump out for his failure to appropriately denounce racist hate groups after a neo-Nazi Trump supporter killed a young woman in Charlottesville. Hatch has also publicly disagreed with Trump on his transgender military ban and proposals to cut corporate tax rates drastically.
It is yet to be seen whether Hatch will use his freedom from needing the votes from the die hard Trump supporters to call out the president as unfit for the presidency, as both Corker and Flake have done.
A spokesman for Sen. Hatch denied that he plans to retire.
‘Nothing has changed since The Atlantic published a carbon copy of this same story in April, likely with the same anonymous sources who were no more informed on the Senator’s thinking than they seem to be now. Senator Hatch is focused on leading the Senate’s efforts to pass historic tax reform, confirming strong judges to courts around the country, and continuing to fight through the gridlock to deliver results for Utah. He has not made a final decision about whether or not to seek reelection, but plans to by the end of the year.’
The sources confirmed, however, that while “either man could still change his mind, they spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans are not yet public and the subject is sensitive to Hatch.”
Rumors circulated before reports of Hatch’s retirement that Mitt Romney was considering making a run for the seat of Utah senator. Romney’s failed presidential run made him a well-known and respected figure among GOP politicians, donors, and voters, and he would pose quite the challenge to the alt-right candidates that Steve Bannon is reportedly lining up to run against more establishment Republicans in the 2018 primaries.
GOP voters were willing to vote for Romney when he ran against President Obama, and the more religious, fiscally conservative voters are far more likely to choose him over another populist candidate. While Bannon’s candidates may fare better in some states, Utah is a largely Mormon state who would likely be more inclined to vote for a Mormon candidate with years of political experience.
Romney and Trump have a shaky history to their relationship. Romney warned voters during the GOP primaries in 2016 that a Trump presidency would be “an oppressive government that would lead America down a darker, less free path,” and that the GOP would suffer irreparable consequences as a result. Although the Trump transition team denied the rumors, many saw Trump’s discussions with Romney about the position of secretary of state, for which he later snubbed Romney, as retaliation for those comments.
It seems that most of the GOP seats will be precarious at best in the upcoming primary and general elections.
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