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Will GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, known to be a nemesis of former President Donald Trump, run for re-election next year in what is expected to be a better cycle for Republicans?
His answer: A definite maybe.
Romney “took his first step toward launching a reelection campaign by submitting a declaration of candidacy to the Federal Election Commission, but the Utah senator stopped short of confirming whether he would run for another term,” according to a new report.
Romney filed a “statement of candidacy,” which enables him to commence fundraising and utilizing campaign funds, indicating his potential plan to run for an election. Although this move does not necessarily confirm his candidacy, it is the strongest indication of his future intentions so far, the outlet noted further.
Romney has been reticent about his plans for re-election until now. Nonetheless, he said he’s “confident” in winning if he decides to run again, which caught some of his critics off-guard who previously considered his opposition to Trump as a sign that he would serve only one term as senator.
“I’ll make that assessment over the coming months, and sometime in the spring or summer, I’ll make that decision,” Romney told reporters in February. “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.”
The Utah Republican’s staff downplayed the filing with the FEC.
“No new decision or announcement to share, and as the Senator has said, he will make a final decision in the coming months,” Romney’s chief of staff, Liz Johnson, told the Examiner. “In the meantime, we’re ensuring he’s well prepared to run if he chooses.”
Romney has become known in most GOP political circles for things that are not flattering to him: He’s anti-Donald Trump, and he couldn’t pull off becoming president himself, losing twice in 2008 and 2012.
Now he may be in a fight to salvage what is left of his political career.
Romney will face a GOP primary challenger as he seeks re-election next year in Riverton, Utah, Mayor Trent Staggs, who announced he was running for Romney’s seat on Tuesday.
“Right now, Washington is broken,” Staggs said in a video announcing his candidacy. “And every time we compromise, it costs us trillions”
He added: “We have more IRS agents than border agents. And while we’re paying $4 a gallon for gas, they’re sending our money unchecked to Ukraine. Now, we’re almost $32 trillion in debt. Enough is enough.”
Staggs went on to remind viewers that years ago, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, “moved to Utah and told us what he’d fight for.” He played a video clip of Romney pledging to end illegal immigration, putting America “on a path to a balanced budget” and to “push back against federal overreach and to confirm judges who follow the Constitution.”
“The only thing I’ve seen [Romney] fight for are the establishment, wokeness, open borders, impeaching President Trump and putting us even deeper into debt,” Staggs remarked.
In an interview with the Salt Lake City-based Deseret News, Staggs said he consulted with his family before making the decision to run for Romney’s seat. As for his qualifications, he cited his leadership of Riverton, a city of about 45,000 and a Salt Lake City suburb.
“And throughout that service, I think I have proven myself as a fighter, somebody who is consistently conservative on all fronts,” he said. “I have consistently been … on the front lines of what I call the front lines of federal or government overreach.”
Romney has not actually declared his intent to run for re-election, but Staggs believes that he will.
Romney urged Republicans to move on from Trump but added he ultimately believes the former president will get the nomination.
“I hope the jury of the American people reaches the same conclusion about Donald Trump. He just is not suited to be president of the United States and to be the person who we hold up to our children and the world as the leader of the free world,” Romney said.
“At some point when the people who work with you, your cabinet secretaries, and juries conclude that you’ve done something severely wrong, it’s time for us to recognize that the great majority of those who’ve worked with him is right and he’s wrong,” he added.
Romney recently said he believes that Trump will once again become the party’s nominee in 2024.
In a back-and-forth with reporters in the U.S. Capitol, Romney said: “I think President Trump is by far the most likely to become our nominee. If there’s an alternative to that, it would be only realistic if it narrows down to a two-person race at some point.”
“There’s always a personal interest on the part of the campaign — particularly the campaign staff, and consultants, as well as the candidate — to stay in. And to say, ‘Hey, look, I came in second. So I’m the person that really ought to get the nomination four years from now,’” Romney noted further. “And so it really is up to the donors and other influential people that know the candidate, his family or her family, to say, ‘Hey, time to move on.’”
Romney, who voted twice to impeach Trump, added he would work against the former president during the nomination process: “I won’t be supporting President Trump.”