OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Mitt 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.
Earlier this week, 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.”