Mitt Romney is running for Senate — at least according to Utah's governor, Gary Herbert.
Utah Republicans had been "growing anxious" waiting for Romney to announce whether he planned to seek Sen. Orrin Hatch's seat, which Hatch plans to vacate after his current term ends in 2019, so they were pestering Romney's close friends and family to get a definitive decision.
One came on Sunday.
Herbert told The New York Times that he was among the top pesterers. "Let's not be coy about this," he says he told a Romney friend. If he's going to run, let's go. If not, we need to find somebody else to run, and there's people that have been trying to queue up for the opportunity."
Romney answered Herbert in a text, Hebert says. It read, simply, "I'm running."
If his electronic communications didn't confirm his intentions, however, his schedule for this week certainly does. Romney is expected to attend two high-profile events — a meeting of the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce and a local Utah tech conference — something the private citizen Romney is not typically interested in.
When Hatch announced his retirement several weeks ago, most pundits speculated Romney would jump into the race. After all, Hatch has said several times that he wouldn't leave the Senate seat he held for three decades in the hands of just anyone. He openly declared Romney to be his successor, even though at around 70 years of age, Romney isn't that much younger than Hatch.
The news, however, will perplex the Trump White House. Romney is no friend to Trump, and despite a series of dinners and peace overtures, Trump has never really warmed to Romney either. But Trump may not be able to stand in Romney's way. Utah is very much an independent Republican state, and Hatch enjoys a record-breaking 80% approval among his constituents. Romney is still wildly popular within the state.