UPDATE — 4/22, 7:17 p.m. EDT: Failing to secure 60 percent of the vote at Utah’s Republican convention Saturday, U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney will face Mike Kennedy, a state congressman, doctor and lawyer, in June’s GOP primary.
Originally consisting of 12 candidates, only two remained after the first round of voting, with Kennedy edging Romney among convention delegates, 50.88 to 49.12 percent.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, will run for Utah’s U.S. Senate seat being vacated by seven-term senator, Republican Orrin Hatch.
Mr. Romney announced his 2018 bid on Twitter Friday morning.
I am running for United States Senate to serve the people of Utah and bring Utah’s values to Washington. pic.twitter.com/TDkas6gD2p
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 16, 2018
Romney’s tweet included a two-minute video in which he extolled the virtues of Utahans, the state’s economic vitality and his desire to accompany its “values and lessons” to Washington, D.C.
“Given all that America faces, we feel that this is the right time for me to serve our state and our country,” he said.
In a veiled swipe at President Trump, Romney bemoaned Washington was sending a message of “exclusion to immigrants.” Romney also mentioned a desire to reverse a culture of incivility prevalent in the nation’s capitol.
Similarly, Romney, a five-year resident of the Beehive State, referenced his 2002 efforts as CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics, campaigning for GOP candidates and remaining in contact with Utah residents.
Despite wide support in a conservative state, Utah state GOP chair Rob Anderson slammed Romney’s expected bid on Thursday, comparing Romney’s expected campaign to Hillary Clinton’s Senate run in 2000.
“(He’s) essentially doing what Hillary Clinton did in New York . . . he’s keeping out candidates that I think would be a better fit for Utah because, let’s face it, Mitt Romney doesn’t live here, his kids weren’t born here, he doesn’t shop here,” Anderson said.
Fellow Utah resident and former GOP Congressman Jason Chaffetz challenged Anderson’s characterization of Romney, calling the former Massachusetts governor “Utah’s favorite son.”
A frequent critic of Donald Trump, Romney assailed the New York real estate mogul as the sought the GOP presidential nomination. In a speech broadly eviscerating Trump in March 2016, Romney referred to him as a phony and a fraud, and encouraged voters to reject the then-presidential candidate.
Following Trump’s election over Hillary Clinton, the two met as the then-president-elect briefly considered nominating Romney to serve as secretary of state.
An announcement expected earlier in the week, Romney postponed revealing his political intentions in Utah in consideration of the victims and families affected by Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
A former private equity executive and one-term governor of Massachusetts, since being defeated in the 2012 presidential election Romney has served as CEO of his son’s investment firm and sits on the board of Marriott Hotels.
Romney is expected to easily claim Hatch’s seat.
[Bloomberg] [Salt Lake Tribune] [FiveThirtyEight] [CNN] [Photo courtesy Reuters via BBC]