Here’s what’s next after Sen. Mitt Romney announced no reelection run
Sep 15, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: Sep 20, 2023, 11:35 am
(Win McNamee /Getty Images)
The challenges in finding a replacement for Sen. Mitt Romney
SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney’s surprise announcement on Wednesday that he will not seek re-election is the beginning of a long road for Utah politicians.
But Utah GOP Chair Robert Axson said he’s thankful the party has some time to go through the process of electing someone else without having to rush.
And he’s thankful to Sen. Mitt Romney, too. For several reasons.
“I have to say ‘thank you’ to Senator Romney,” Axson told KSL NewsRadio. “He has us enough time where the people of Utah and the Republican party can actually go through the party without it being last minute.”
“When somebody puts their name on the line, and they represent us, they deserve our accolades,” Axson said. “And our respect, especially as they’re going out the door. Senator Romney has had a lifetime of service to the people of Utah for many years.”
Axson also noted Romney’s service during the 2002 Olympic Utah Olympic Games, just months after the terror attacks of Sep. 11, 2001.
“It was this healing cathartic experience for not only Utah but the country,” he said. “And Senator Romney had a lot to do with that.”
Where does the Utah GOP go from here?
The first order of business for the Utah GOP is to provide an organized, fair and effective process for nominating a candidate.
The first official activity will be the Utah GOP caucus on March 5, 2024.
“[We’ll] create that space, where Utahns, and specifically Utah’s Republicans can engage with these candidates vet these candidates, put those candidates in the hot seat and make sure that those individuals, those men and women are prepared to articulate why they would be the best person to be Utah’s next senator,” Axson said.
After that, Axson said the party would focus on registering new Republicans and voter targeting.
And what’s next for Utah Democrats after Sen. Mitt Romney?
Ben Anderson with the Utah Democratic Party told KSL NewsRadio that a lot of Democrats across the state are likely disappointed by Romney’s decision.
“While we obviously have many disagreements with Senator Romney, he’s shown there is at least one Republican who is willing to stand up to his party, despite the political consequences of doing so,” Anderson said. “Now I think it’s going to be really tough. We’re going to see a race to the far right.”
Romney mentioned his age when he announced he wouldn’t seek another term in the U.S. Senate. But Anderson said that voters may be more concerned about a candidate’s accomplishments than his or her age.
“No one would question that a lot of people in Washington are on the older side of things,” Anderson said, “but ultimately I think people look at the records of public servants and what they’ve done in their time.”
Anderson said he’s expecting extreme candidates to run for the Republicans.
“And I think that does leave an opening for a candidate who will kind of take the lane of the moderate, sensible, common sense candidate,” he said. “Which is something that I think a lot of Utahns are looking for and not seeing in our federal delegation.”