Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), the failed 2012 GOP presidential nominee and staunch critic of former President Donald Trump who has fallen into disfavor to some extent or another with many Republican voters, is up for re-election in 2024.
The first-term senator from Utah, however, recently expressed uncertainty when asked if he planned to run for a second term in the next election cycle, Newsmax reported.
There appear to be two main likely reasons for Romney’s hesitancy — first, the prospect that he would have to share a ballot with his political nemesis if Trump decides to run for president again, as well as the probability that he would face a bitter and tough primary fight against pro-Trump candidates.
Romney remains undecided
A reporter for The Hill asked Sen. Romney if he had plans to run for re-election in 2024 in the wake of Romney disappointing a substantial portion of the GOP base by being one of only three Senate Republicans to vote to confirm Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
Romney had already greatly disappointed and even angered many Republicans for voting to confirm other Biden nominees, for playing a key role in helping to negotiate a passable version of Biden’s infrastructure spending plans, but most especially for twice voting to convict Trump following impeachment trials — the only member of the Senate ever to vote to convict a president of their party.
“I’m going to cross that bridge down the road. I haven’t given a lot of attention yet,” Romney said concerning the 2024 elections.
That may be true, at least on the financial side of things, according to The Hill, as the Utah senator has raised a relatively paltry amount of funds for his campaign — about $473,000, more than half of which was leftover from his 2018 campaign.
Tough primary battle in 2024 likely
As for the likelihood that Sen. Romney would face a tough primary fight before running for re-election in 2024, The Hill noted that two rather prominent pro-Trump politicians in Utah — Attorney General Sean Reyes and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz — appear likely to be gunning for his Senate seat.
“I think that’s why he is giving this some pause. He will have a tough race with the Republican nomination process,” Brigham Young University political science professor emeritus Richard Davis told the outlet.
“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,” the professor added. “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.”
Equal approval among Republicans and Democrats … doesn’t bode well for a GOP primary
Indeed, a poll in February from Utah’s Deseret News and the Hinkley Institute of Politics revealed that Sen. Romney’s approval stood at 51 percent for both Democrats and Republicans and 54 percent among unaffiliated independent voters.
“Right now, Sen. Romney is one of those rare politicians who has support from across the political spectrum,” Hinckley Institute Director Jason Perry said. Of course, while such a unique circumstance may play well in a general election, the fact that Romney is equally popular with Democrats and independents, if not more so, could prove fatal to his political future in a primary involving devoted Republican conservatives.