As of Thursday, Mitt Romney was expected to announce his candidacy for the soon-to-be-vacant Utah Senate seat, but he delayed that announcement out of deference to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Nevertheless, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee is virtually certain to throw his hat into the ring. But in addition to being a concern for conservatives who would like to see Orrin Hatch’s seat go to someone more loyal to the Trump agenda, Romney’s candidacy strikes some Republicans in Utah as being unnecessary and unhelpful.
Some like…the top Republican Party official in the state, Utah GOP Chairman Rob Anderson. In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Anderson had some deep reservations about Romney’s suitability as a candidate.
“I think 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,” he said, comparing Romney’s run to “what Hillary Clinton did in New York.”
“I have two questions for Mitt. First of all, why? And how do you expect to represent Utah when you don’t live here?” Anderson continued.
Although Romney has had several Utah Republicans come to his side, Anderson said he felt there were other “good, conservative people” who would better represent the state. He said they would stand little chance, though, because Romney “has been poaching all of the talent as far as campaign and messaging and financing.”
But that’s not the only thing that gives Anderson pause. “He has never been a Trump supporter,” he noted. “I just want somebody to support the party’s platforms.”
And that’s a concern that goes well beyond Utah’s borders. The last thing we need is another high-and-mighty NeverTrump Republican taking up space in the Senate. Just as we’re getting rid of the Jeff Flakes and other, not-on-the-bandwagon Republicans, here comes Mr. Romney back to Washington. The man has a score to settle with President Trump after being passed over and humiliated in the Secretary of State search, and you can bet he’s going to use his place in the Senate to get his revenge. And even if he isn’t running with malicious intentions, it’s beyond clear that he does not support this president or his agenda. We would be just as well off putting a Democrat in Orrin Hatch’s seat.
Unfortunately, he’s essentially a lock for the win if he runs as expected. Who knows, maybe Trump can pressure him into line. Otherwise, he’s going to be a problem.