Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, the longest serving GOP senator, announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in 2018 – opening up a possible pathway to the political resurrection of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
The 83-year-old Republican, who first took his seat in 1977, had been debating whether to run again in 2018, and President Trump had publicly beseeched him not to retire.
In a video statement, Tuesday he said that he would vacate the seat at the end of his term.
I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington,” Hatch said. “But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching.”
Romney, a native Utahn and a vocal critic of the president, has been widely reported to be considering running for Hatch’s seat. Trump visited the state last month to announce the shrinking of two Utah monuments and pushed Hatch to stay on.
“We hope you will continue to serve your state and your country in the Senate for a very long time to come,” Trump said.
Hatch has been a strong supporter of the president’s agenda, and as head of the Senate Finance Committee was a key player in getting the tax reform bill passed in December.
In his statement, Hatch noted that had authored more bills that became law than any living member of Congress. He also hailed the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as one of his proudest legislative achievements.
“I'm deeply grateful for the privilege you've given me to serve as your Senator these last four decades,” he said in the statement. “I may be leaving the Senate, but the next chapter in my public service is just beginning.”
Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.