Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) isn’t thinking about a second term as he increasingly disconnects from his party.
Following his vote for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Romney told reporters he “hasn’t given a lot of attention yet” to running for reelection.
He hasn’t made any big fundraising moves. His Senate campaign account reports less than $500,000 on hand, only about $215,000 more than he reported after winning his seat in 2018.
Once the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Romney’s favorability has crashed in the era of Trumpism. His two votes to convict Trump, making him the first Senator in history to convict a president of his own party in an impeachment trial, have put him at odds with the GOP base that still rallies behind the former president.
His vote for Jackson would likely come up in a primary race. There has been talk of Utah’s Attorney General Sean Reyes, who supported Trump’s 2020 election challenge, challenging Romney for his seat. Former Representative Jason Chaffetz may also join the race.
Either one of them would be a formidable opponent for Romney within the Republican Party because he has made himself persona non grata with many of the conservative Republicans,” said Richard Davis, a professor emeritus of political science at Brigham Young University. “He’s actually more popular with Democrats and independents than he is with Republicans right now. So getting past the Republican primary would be a tough one.”
Davis suggested Romney would be better off running as an independent or centrist candidate for the recently formed United Utah Party.