Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
FILE – Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. President Donald Trump was in town to sign proclamations scaling back Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch is expected to finally announce next week whether he’s running for re-election in 2018 or ending a career of more than four decades in the Senate to make way for Mitt Romney to run for his seat.
Even those close to the 83-year-old Utah Republican have said privately they’re not sure what he’ll do, especially after President Donald Trump urged him to continue to serve “for a very long time to come” in a recent speech at the Utah Capitol.
Romney has said little about the race, although he is said to be readying a campaign. Hatch said earlier this year he would be willing to consider retiring if Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, would run.
“One thing is clear — Sen. Hatch is in the driver’s seat on this decision, and he is not going to be pressured,” said Jason Perry, head of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.
The time it’s taking for Hatch to make up his mind has been frustrating for some, Perry said, but that hasn’t stopped the senator from “doing what he has done his entire career, taking time to think about his decision and counting his votes.”
Polls suggest Hatch would face a tough battle for an eighth term, while showing Romney would be a much stronger candidate against the Democrat already in the race, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson.
“The last thing Orrin Hatch wants is to go out a loser and be rejected,” a Utah political…