Longest Serving Republican In Congress Announces His Retirement Despite Pressure From Trump
Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the longest-serving Senate Republican, announced on Tuesday he will retire at the end of the year, rebuffing the pleas of President Trump to seek an eighth term and paving the way for Mitt Romney to run for the seat.
Mr. Hatch made his decision public on Tuesday afternoon via a video announcement, according to two Republican officials briefed on the plans.
“When the president visited Utah last month, he said I was a fighter. I’ve always been a fighter. I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington,” he said. “But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching.”
Mr. Hatch, 83, was under heavy pressure from Mr. Trump to seek re-election and block Mr. Romney, who has been harshly critical of the president. But Mr. Hatch, who emerged as one of the president’s most avid loyalists in the Senate, decided to retire after discussing the matter with his family over the holidays. The veteran senator was also facing harsh poll numbers in Utah, where 75 percent of voters indicated in a survey last fall that they did not want him to run again.
Mr. Hatch’s decision comes just weeks after Mr. Trump signed a sweeping tax overhaul into law, a measure that the senator helped write as chairman of the Finance Committee. The bill represented something of a capstone to Mr. Hatch’s four decades in Congress and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, even deemed it as such last month in what was seen as a subtle effort to usher his colleague to the exits.