Mitt Romney Hasn’t Announced He’s Running for Senate, But Republicans Have a Plan for Him Anyway

Life moves fast when you’re Mitt Romney.

The former GOP presidential nominee has not even officially entered the race for U.S. Senate in Utah, but Republican top brass are already considering him for a leadership position.

A donor with close connections to the Senate GOP says there is growing chatter over the idea of having Romney replace Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner as the next chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to The Atlantic.

As leader of the Senate GOP’s fundraising arm, the chairman is tasked with courting donors, and recruiting and vetting potential GOP candidates for the upper chamber of Congress.

This position is nearly exclusive to more senior members of the Senate, but Republicans are reportedly perfectly fine with making an exception for Romney, who boasts a national profile and a long list of accomplishments in elected office.

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Romney served as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, and is widely considered to have saved the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah from financial ruin. Having run in the Republican presidential primary in 2008, and becoming the official GOP presidential nominee in 2012, Romney still touts a donor network that extends across the country.

GOP leadership’s consideration of him for this position is also testament to Romney’s likelihood of winning in Utah, a majority Mormon state that adores the country’s most famous member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Michigan native and longtime Massachusetts resident made Utah his official home state in 2014.

On Thursday, Gardner phoned a GOP donor and and stated that he and Senate leadership “liked Romney” for the NRSC chairman position.

“It made perfect sense to me,” the anonymous donor said. “He’s got the stature and a virtually unmatched fundraising base to draw upon. And he’s running because he wants a national platform to help the party anyway.”

Technically, every Republican senator gets a vote on leadership positions within their conference following Election Day, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell effectively enjoys complete control on who’s appointed to these positions. The Kentucky Republican is reportedly on board with Romney becoming the next NRSC chairman.

In an apparent bid to encourage Romney to launch a campaign, McConnell promised the 70-year-old former governor last year that he would wield more influence in the U.S. Senate than a typical junior lawmaker.

“It’s definitely out there, there’s no question about that,” one source said of Republican senators discussing the idea of making Romney NRSC chairman. “My guess is McConnell’s pushing it because it would be good for the party and good for fundraising.”

While Romney has not officially entered the race to replace outgoing GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, his impending entrance would be all but a formality at this point.

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On the same day Hatch issued his retirement announcement, Romney updated his Twitter location from “Massachusetts” to “Holladay, Utah.” In response to repeated inquiry by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert over whether he was committed to a Senate run, Romney reportedly sent a text message to a mutual friend that said unequivocally, “I’m running.”

Longtime aides to Romney are reportedly being tapped to join his campaign team. Matt Waldrip is expected to be named campaign manager, while Spencer Zwick, Romney’s former finance chairman, and top strategist Beth Myers also expected to jump on board as well, according to CNN.

Romney revealed on Twitter that he would be making an announcement on Feb. 15 regarding the Utah Senate race.

Should Romney make it official, the election would be his to lose.

The state of Utah is a Republican bastion and he would likely sail to a GOP primary win. The Salt Lake Tribune commissioned a poll indicating Romney would beat his likeliest general election opponent by enormous margins, taking in 64 percent of the vote compared to 26 percent for Democrat Jenny Wilson, a Salt Lake City Council member.

Former White House adviser Steve Bannon had seriously considered finding an anti-establishment candidate to challenge Romney in the GOP primary, but following Bannon’s long fall from grace, the road appears clear for a Senator Mitt Romney.

This post was last modified on March 15, 2018, 6:07 pm