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Sen. Romney not saying if he’ll run again, but staff making preparations

By Tim Vandenack - | Apr 15, 2023

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney gestures while speaking during a tour of the Weber County Elections Office on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney may not yet be ready to say if he’ll run for reelection in 2024, but his staffers are laying the groundwork if he does decide to seek a second term.

“No new decision or announcement to share, and as the senator has said, he will make a final decision in the coming months,” Liz Johnson, Romney’s chief of staff, said in a message to the Standard-Examiner. “In the meantime, we’re ensuring he’s well prepared to run if he chooses.”

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, a GOPer like Romney, announced his potential interest in running for the seat now held by Romney on Thursday, saying he’d be forming an exploratory committee to look into the idea.

Romney’s staff had no comment on Wilson’s announcement, but pointed back to a statement Romney made last February, saying he’d make a decision on running sometime in the spring or summer.

“I’m confident that I would win if I decide to run. I’ll have the resources, and I believe the people of Utah would be with me,” Romney said at the time.

On Tuesday, however, Romney filed a declaration of candidacy for the seat with the Federal Election Commission. Doing so allows the senator to begin raising and spending money on a potential campaign.

Romney has been a fierce critic of former President Donald Trump. That’s alienated some Trump-backing Republicans in Utah — he narrowly avoided censure by the Emery County Republican Party in central Utah — but generated support from critics of the divisive former president, who plans to run again for the White House in 2024.

A poll released last week by O.H. Predictive Insights, or OHPI, indicted mixed support among Utahns for Romney.

“Utah voters are split on whether Mitt Romney should run for re-election in 2024, with a razor-thin margin saying he should not. One in five remain unsure,” the polling firm said in a statement.

Overall, 38% of poll respondents said Romney should run again and 42% said he shouldn’t, according to OHPI. Among Democrats, 47% said he should run again with 26% opposed to the idea. Among GOPers, 36% said Romney should run again with 51% against him vying a second time.

“Romney has seemed to age backward throughout his political career,” Mike Noble, the OHPI chief of research, said in a statement. Ten years ago “he was the nominee for president and the standard-bearer of the GOP; now, he can barely muster a third of his own party’s support for a re-election bid.”

Romney had $592,570 on hand in campaign funds as of the end of 2022, according to Federal Election Commission figures. According to figures from the Utah Lt. Governor’s Office, which oversees campaign financing in the state, Wilson had $179,331 on hand as of the end of 2022.

Wilson, who’s from Kaysville, emphasized his “pragmatic and conservative” approach in saying he was mulling a Senate run.

“Utahns deserve a bold, proven and conservative leader to represent them in our nation’s capital,” he said in his statement on Thursday. “We live in a moment of waning confidence and trust in our federal government and need reasonable and conservative voices to restore faith in democracy.”


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