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Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney won’t seek reelection in 2024, marking end to decadeslong political career

by Ethan Kim
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Political Retirement

Utah’s long-serving Republican Senator, Mitt Romney, has announced that he will not seek reelection in 2024, marking the end of a political career that spanned two decades. Romney, aged 76, delivered this decision through a video statement, emphasizing the need for a new generation of leaders to shape the future of the country.

Romney’s political journey has been noteworthy, from his tenure as the Governor of Massachusetts to securing the Republican GOP nomination for the presidency in 2012. However, his brand of Republicanism evolved over the years, particularly as Donald Trump’s populist influence rose within the party. Romney stood out as the sole GOP member of Congress to vote to convict Trump during both of his impeachment trials.

In his announcement, Romney didn’t mince words, criticizing both Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden, the anticipated nominees for their respective parties in the 2024 presidential race, for their stances on issues like climate change and the national debt.

Romney’s decision to step aside adds to the growing list of incumbent senators who plan to retire after the 2025 term, a list that includes Republicans and Democrats alike. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell commended Romney’s extensive experience and unwavering integrity, acknowledging his unique contributions to the Senate.

With Romney vacating his seat in a state that traditionally favors Republicans, a competitive race is expected to ensue, drawing numerous contenders. Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson has already expressed interest in Romney’s seat, emphasizing the need for a “conservative fighter” who aligns with Utah’s values rather than a “professional career politician.”

Despite his occasional rifts with his party, Romney has maintained popularity in Utah, a state known for its civil conservatism and resistance to Trump’s unconventional political style. The state boasts a significant population of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, among whom Romney, a prominent figure and graduate of Brigham Young University, is highly regarded.

Romney’s legacy extends beyond politics, as he played a pivotal role in reviving the scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, turning it into a global showcase for Salt Lake City. His tenure as Massachusetts governor included the signing of a health care law with similarities to the federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama.

Throughout his political career, Romney faced challenges in connecting with everyday Americans, a perception crystallized by his infamous statement about the “47% of Americans” during the 2012 presidential campaign. After his presidential defeat, he relocated to Utah.

Romney’s stance on Trump evolved over time, from denouncing him as a “phony” and a “fraud” in 2016 to accepting his endorsement during the 2018 Senate race while pledging to speak out against divisive or harmful actions. In 2020, he notably participated in a Black Lives Matter protest, a rare move for a member of his party.

Romney’s retirement from the Senate has stirred reactions from various quarters, including former President Trump, who celebrated the news. The stage is now set for a hotly contested race to fill his seat in a state that will be closely watched in the upcoming elections.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Political Retirement

Why did Mitt Romney decide not to seek reelection in 2024?

Mitt Romney chose not to seek reelection in 2024 because he recognized that, at 76 years old, he would be in his mid-80s at the end of another six-year Senate term. He believed it was time for a new generation of leaders to make decisions that would shape the world they would inherit.

How did Mitt Romney’s political career evolve over the years?

Mitt Romney’s political career evolved significantly. He served as the Governor of Massachusetts and secured the Republican GOP nomination for the presidency in 2012. However, with the rise of Donald Trump’s populist influence in the Republican Party, Romney’s brand of Republicanism shifted from establishment to outlier.

What were some notable actions and stances taken by Mitt Romney during his Senate tenure?

Mitt Romney gained attention for his principled stances. He was the only GOP member of Congress to vote to convict Donald Trump at both of his impeachment trials. He also criticized both Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden for their policies on issues like climate change and the national debt.

How did Mitt Romney’s decision impact the political landscape in Utah?

Mitt Romney’s decision to not seek reelection created a competitive race for his Senate seat in Utah. The state traditionally favors Republicans, and his departure prompted interest from various contenders, including Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson.

What factors contributed to Mitt Romney’s popularity in Utah?

Mitt Romney’s popularity in Utah can be attributed to his affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, his role in revitalizing the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, and his reputation as a prominent figure in the state for two decades.

How did Mitt Romney’s relationship with Donald Trump change over time?

Mitt Romney’s relationship with Donald Trump evolved from criticism during the 2016 presidential campaign to accepting Trump’s endorsement in the 2018 Senate race while pledging to speak out against divisive or harmful actions. Romney’s principled stands often placed him at odds with elements of his party.

What impact did Mitt Romney’s retirement have on the 2024 political landscape?

Mitt Romney’s retirement led to a wide-open contest for his Senate seat in a state that typically leans Republican. It is expected to attract a crowded field of Republican candidates, and this race will be closely watched in the upcoming elections.

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