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Door opens for Romney

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said Tuesday he will not seek re-election after serving more than 40 years in the Senate, opening the door for former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to run for his seat.

Hatch, 83, said he's always been a fighter, "but every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves."

Hatch is the longest-serving Republican in the Senate. He chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee and was a major force in getting a tax overhaul through Congress and signed into law in December.

He also played a key role in persuading President Donald Trump to sign proclamations scaling back two sprawling national monuments in Utah that Hatch and other conservatives considered examples of government overreach.

In a statement, Hatch said he decided to retire at the end of his seventh term after "much prayer and discussion with family and friends" over the holiday break.

"Only in a nation like ours could someone like me — the scrappy son of a simple carpenter — grow up to become a United States Senator," he added.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who now lives in Utah, has been eyeing a Senate run, but Trump had encouraged Hatch to seek re-election.

Romney thanked Hatch in a statement on Facebook and said Hatch "has represented the interests of Utah with distinction and honour."

Romney's statement did not mention his own plans.



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