Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah announced Tuesday that he will retire in January 2019 at the end of his current term. Hatch is the longest-serving Republican in the Senate.
“Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves,” said Hatch in a short video released Tuesday. “I may be leaving the Senate, but the next chapter in my public service is just beginning.”
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) January 2, 2018
Hatch, who first took the seat in 1977, is worth an estimated $4.96 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, making him worth 81 percent more than the average senator.
Hatch’s retirement opens up a path for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to run for the seat. Romney, a Mormon, is popular in Utah where he is now a resident. More than half of all Utahans identify as Mormon.
Hatch, 83, helped write a sweeping tax bill last month that was signed into law just before Christmas as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Hatch also took credit for specifically writing a provision in the tax bill that could potentially enrich fellow Republican Senators.
President Donald Trump has publicly encouraged Hatch to run for an eighth term. Hatch had emerged as a vocal proponent of the president, and Romney who has indicated interest in running for the seat, has been an outspoken critic of Trump.
Hatch came to the decision after consulting with his family during the holidays, but he also faces tough poll numbers that indicated last fall that 75 percent of the electorate didn’t want him to run again, according to the New York Times.
Senate was Hatch’s first and only publicly elected position — in his first run he promised term limits and blasted his opponent for holding the seat for 18 years. Before running for Senate, Hatch practiced law in Utah and Pennsylvania. Hatch attended the Pittsburgh School of Law and received his J.D. in 1962. Hatch was also an amateur boxer in his youth.