Mitt Romney has officially entered the race to become Utah’s next U.S. senator.
In a video released on Twitter, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee announced his intention to succeed the retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch, a fellow Republican.
The over two-minute-long video showcases Romney’s deep roots in the state, touching on his role in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games, as well as his other work in the Beehive State.
One notable line included what appears to be a subtle jab at President Donald Trump: “Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world. Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion.”
The apparent attack on the Trump administration’s immigration policy could serve as a window into how Romney will campaign and potentially serve in Washington. A more establishment-minded Republican, Romney has butted heads with Trump in the past, and will likely continue to do so once in office.
“I will fight for Utah,” the country’s most well known Mormon Republican said in closing.
The announcement comes a day later than originally anticipated. Romney had initially planned to declare his candidacy on Thursday, however, he postponed the announcement following the Florida high school shooting that left 17 people dead.
Romney is due to give a speech in Provo, Utah later Thursday, where he will likely speak more on his candidacy and what he will do as a U.S. senator.
The race seems as though it is his to lose, as Romney’s background and political views should help him appeal to voters in the state.
A Republican member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Romney is absolutely adored in this Mormon-majority state. When Romney was the GOP presidential nominee in 2012, Utah voters favored him over then-President Barack Obama by over 50 points.
In a recent survey, The Salt Lake Tribune found that 64 percent of voters in Utah – including 18 percent of Democrats – would vote Romney in a Senate election.
Given his sky-high popularity and name recognition, most would-be Republican candidates have opted to stay out the race, giving him a clear shot to the party’s nomination.
His likely general election opponent, Jenny Wilson, a Democrat member of the Salt Lake City Council, barely registers as a factor in surveys that match the two together.
However, not everyone appears to be thrilled about Romney’s virtual coronation in the state. Speaking to The Tribune, Utah Republican chairman Rob Anderson eviscerated Romney’s candidacy in a shocking interview.
“I think he’s keeping out candidates that I think would be a better fit for Utah because, let’s face it, Mitt Romney doesn’t live here, his kids weren’t born here, he doesn’t shop here,” Anderson said.
“Nobody wants to go out there like David and Goliath and get defeated by the Romney machine,” he continued.
However, Anderson went on to walk those comments back, saying that his previous statements were, more-or-less, taken out of context in print.
Romney reached out to Anderson after his criticism, and the GOP chairman gave him an apology.
It’s not clear if Romney will seek his nomination through the Republican state convention or get on the ballot by a collection of signatures.
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