(BrightPress.org) – Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) is passing up on continued political ambitions, announcing he will not be seeking reelection in 2024. The announcement has caught the Utah GOP off guard as they’re seeking to fill the seat with someone with the political capital to win the election. Romney plans to retire and suggested that it is time for “a new generation” of political leadership.
Romney is considered a moderate among other conservatives. He was also very critical of former President Trump, earning him the insulting title of “RINO” (Republican in name only) from many Trump supporters. His departure will likely allow a more conservative Republican the opportunity to run for his Senate seat. In fact, there are a ton of people interested, according to Utah GOP Chairman Robert Axson.
He told reporters from The Hill that 30 some people had expressed interest in taking Romney’s seat – if they could win the election, that is. Axson said out of that number, roughly a dozen are likely seriously considering it.
Head of Utah State University’s political science department Damon Cann suggested the Republican primary was going to be a “blockbuster.” Cann was commenting on the fact that there are infrequently open congressional seats in Utah and Romney is a political bigwig in the state.
Famously, Romney was the only Republican who twice voted to impeach President Donald Trump while also being one of his most vocal critics in Congress. Cann suggested that Romney’s exit is leaving a vacuum where many folks who wouldn’t have considered a run may enter the race as a result.
One example is Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs who cited Romney’s departure as a reason for his announcement. Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson is also teasing a potential step up to the federal government. Wilson’s statement regarding Romney’s departure reads “Stay tuned,” and mentions the launch of a committee to find someone to take Romney’s place.
Wilson is looking for “a strong conservative” to fight in Congress, which is precisely how Stagg’s campaign is billing him. A few other names floated include Utah Republican Reps. Blake Moore and John Curtis. Curtis is reportedly being encouraged to run. Moore similarly is noncommittal, hinting that he hasn’t ruled the possibility out while simultaneously suggesting he’s not planning on it.
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