Many Americans, including me, were fascinated by the election of a U.S. senator from Alabama.
The election turned out the correct way. It was a big surprise. Democratic nominee Doug Jones won and is now the senator-elect from one of the nation’s strongest Republican-leaning states.
Now we have another state. It’s out west. It’s Utah. Orrin Hatch is the U.S. Senate’s longest-serving Republican … in the history of the Senate! He is considering whether to run for an eighth six-year term. Sen. Hatch, though, does not have the backing of Utah’s largest newspaper, the Salt Lake Tribune, which named him “Utahn of the Year,” but said he earned the “honor” by demonstrating a new level of crass political ambition. The Tribune wants voters to choose someone else if Hatch decides to run again; the paper, obviously, wants him to retire.
If Hatch does call it quits, it opens the door for Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee and a man considered the odds-on favorite to be elected to the Senate in 2018.
Why is this so fascinating? I’ll tell you. Hatch is a Donald Trump ally; Mitt Romney is, um, not an ally of the president. Sen. Hatch gave Trump his backing on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act; he stood behind the president on the GOP-authored tax cut.
Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, calls Trump a “fraud” and a “phony.” He despises the way Trump has lied; he detests the president’s disparaging of individuals and groups.
Would a Sen. Romney be as closely tied to Trump as Sen. Hatch. I would hope not.
I have developed a significant respect for Romney since the 2012 presidential election. He was courageous enough to deliver a blistering speech during the 2016 campaign in which he hung the fraud and phony label on Trump.
Sure, Trump pondered whether to appoint Romney as secretary of state. The men shook hands. They seemed to bury the hatchet.
But my hope would be that Romney would travel down a more independent path than Hatch has trod.
My request of Sen. Hatch? Listen to what the Tribune said about you. Call it a career. As the Tribune noted, Hatch told Utah voters in 1976 — the year he was elected for crying out loud — that senators shouldn’t stay too long.