Sen. Orrin Hatch hinted on Tuesday that he plans to run for reelection in 2018 for the Senate seat he has held since 1977.
The Utah Republican, 83, has yet to make a formal announcement — and says he will make an official decision at the end of this year or the start of next year. But as of now, he sees another Senate term in the cards.
“I’m planning on running again because I still have the chairmanship of the Finance Committee and they’ll never be another Utahn that’s chairman of the committee, at least not for 40 or 50 years,” Hatch told the Wall Street Journal.
It’s been widely rumored that Mitt Romney has been champing at the bit to run for Hatch’s seat — an idea Hatch himself has proposed.
But it seems Hatch, who is currently chairing the Senate’s most powerful committee — and overseeing the tax reform effort — isn’t too eager to give up his position.
Utahns are less sure. A July poll from the Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics found 78 percent of voters in the state wanted to see Hatch retire after this term, with 57 percent saying he should "definitely not" run for reelection. In a deeply red state, Hatch polled one point behind the Democratic candidate.
Already there’s been discussion of a primary challenge in the state. Boyd Matheson, a former chief of staff to Sen. Mike Lee and well-known conservative voice at the Sutherland Institute think tank, was floated as a possible candidate. Matheson said this week that he will not run for the seat. But the sentiment behind his initial interest remains true:
"The one thing that's uniting people across the spectrum is frustration with the lack of progress in Congress," Matheson told Politico. "They're kind of functioning in this status quo universe."