I don’t think this is what former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney planned for. He failed to secure the Utah Republican Party’s nomination for Senate on Saturday, so now there will be a hard fought June primary.
In the final round of voting at the party’s convention, state Rep. Mike Kennedy (R) won 50.88 percent of the vote, with Romney following with 49.12 percent.
Maeve Reston tweeted: “There will be a GOP primary for @MittRomney in the Utah Senate race. He just came in second to Mike Kennedy in the second round of delegate voting here at the convention. Romney 49.12% Kennedy 50.88%”
There will be a GOP primary for @MittRomney in the Utah Senate race. He just came in second to Mike Kennedy in the second round of delegate voting here at the convention. Romney 49.12% Kennedy 50.88%
— Maeve Reston (@MaeveReston) April 22, 2018
Since neither candidate received 60 percent of the vote, the two will go head to head in a statewide Republican primary. The candidates are running to succeed retiring GOP senator Orrin Hatch.
This setback for Romney was a surprising turn. His national pedigree exceeds Kennedy’s and his donor network as well as the strong endorsements of both Hatch and president Trump seemed to make him a shoe in for the senate.
When Romney announced his candidacy, most thought he was a lock for the GOP nomination. He was not even expected to face a serious challenger.
Kennedy was first elected to the Utah state House in 2012. This recent bid from Romney is just the latest in a long political career. He is a former Massachusetts governor and he ran for president in both 2008 and 2012. He failed to secure the nomination his first time, losing to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), but won the GOP contest in 2012. He lost to former President Obama in the general election.
In 2016, Romney created controversy when he urged Republicans to oppose Trump. He called Trump a “fraud” who lacked the character to be president. But after Trump was elected, the two seemed to be cooperating. Romney was apparently even considered to become Trump’s Secretary of State.
Romney has been critical of the president over a number of issues, including his response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va.
Trump previously urged Hatch to run for reelection, but when he announced his retirement and Romney entered the race, Trump endorsed the presumed winner. He tweeted in February that Romney would make a great senator.
Who knows what Trump will do now that there is a strong challenger in a primary. Romney may have struck the first blow on Saturday when he said he was not ready to endorse Trump for reelection in 2020, he told CNN that he would make that decision “down the road.”
“As a person of political experience, if I endorse someone, I’ll want to know what’s in it for Utah and what help would he provide for us on key priorities in Utah.”
“I’m not a cheap date,” he added.