ST. GEORGE – The United States’ longest-serving Republican senator, Utah’s own Sen. Orrin Hatch, said Thursday he may want to serve a little longer.
The senator told CNN he is planning to run for re-election in 2018, abandoning a 2012 promise that his seventh and current term was his last.
However, a statement from Hatch, tweeted out by his press secretary Matt Whitlock, clarified that his decision to run for re-election is not final, yet he nonetheless plans to ensure “all options remain on the table.”
Senator Hatch appreciates the encouragement he’s receiving to run for reelection. While he has not made a final decision for his plans for 2018, he has made plans thus far to ensure all options remain on the table. His focus remains on the many fast-moving agenda items in the Senate like repealing and replacing Obamacare and confirming Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Last November Hatch said he was contemplating a run for an eighth term due to colleagues and people in Utah asking him to run again. As well, “circumstances have greatly changed,” he said, leading him to consider the possibility.
Hatch told CNN Thursday that President Donald Trump and other top Republicans have also encouraged him to run again.
“His pitch is he needs me,” Hatch said of Trump. “Things are going to be just fine.”
Like other Republicans, Hatch shared his disapproval of lewd comments Trump made about women in an old Access Hollywood video that surfaced during the 2016 presidential campaign. However, Hatch never withdrew his general support of the then-presidential nominee as others had at the time.
Hatch, who turns 83 this month, has served in the Senate since 1977 and is currently its president pro tempore, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and a senior member of the Judiciary Committee.
The announcement comes the day after former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. accepted an offer from the Trump administration to become the U.S. ambassador to Russia.
Huntsman had previously expressed an interest in running for Hatch’s senate seat in 2018, though some reports have stated that was dependent on whether or not Hatch decided to retire or run again.
Former 2016 independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin could also be a possible candidate, having told Fox 13 News last November he had been thinking about running for Hatch’s seat or another federal office.
“Anyone who wants to take me on knows it’s going to be a real ordeal,” Hatch said to CNN in regard to a pending 2018 campaign.
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