According to a report in The Atlantic, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch privately told allies that he is planning to retire at the end of his term in 2018.
Hatch has given no official indication and his spokesman called the report uninformed.
“Nothing has changed since The Atlantic published a carbon copy of this same story in April, likely with the same anonymous sources who were no more informed on the Senator’s thinking than they seem to be now,” said Dave Hansen, a spokesperson for Hatch. “He has not made a final decision about whether or not to seek reelection, but plans to by the end of the year.”
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon had signaled earlier this month that he was targeting Senator Hatch in the 2018 mid-term elections. Why Bannon would target Hatch is unclear as the Senator has been very supportive of the president and vice-versa.
“As late as a week ago, the president was talking with Hatch and encouraging him to run again,” said Hansen. “It’s obvious that Bannon isn’t speaking for the president on this.”
Quin Monson, Political Science Associate Professor at Brigham Young University said that Bannon’s ability to influence the Utah Senate race is questionable.
“Utah is interesting because we’re pretty Republican and we’re quite conservative, but we’ve never been fully on board with President Trump,” Monson said.
Mitt Romney would likely do well in Utah which is a solidly Republican state with a large Mormon voting base.