Hatch denies he's decided to retire to make way for Romney
© Greg Nash

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOn The Money: Fed chief lays out risks of trade war | Senate floats new Russia sanctions amid Trump backlash | House passes bill to boost business investment Hatch threatens legislative action to rein in Trump tariffs GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki MORE's (R-Utah) office on Friday is disputing reports that the nation's longest-serving Republican senator has decided to retire in order to make way for Mitt Romney to run for Senate. 

According to a report in The Atlantic, which cited five sources close to the situation, Hatch is planning to retire at the end of his term in 2018. The report also claimed that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Romney is aiming to replace him in the Senate.


“Nothing has changed since The Atlantic published a carbon copy of this same story in April, likely with the same anonymous sources who were no more informed on the senator's thinking than they seem to be now,” Hatch spokesman Dave Hansen said in response to The Atlantic.

Hatch's Communications Director Matt Whitlock also said that "nothing has changed" since the last report on the issue, in a Friday tweet.

However, the insider sources said that despite strong pressure on Hatch not to run again, the plans are not final and that Romney's choices depend on whether or not Hatch decides to retire. 

The 83-year-old senator said in March that he may retire if Romney were to replace him, saying at the time that he was unsure if he would seek reelection in 2018. 

Romney has spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash House passes bipartisan bill to boost business investment MORE (R-Ky.) and personal advisers about the possibility running for the seat.

"Orrin has to decide what he wants to do. If he wants to run again, I’m for him,” McConnell said in April, following earlier reports that Hatch plans to retire.

The veteran Republican senator faces a potentially difficult run for reelection in the midterm election, with a recent poll showing more than three-quarters of voters polled in Utah are in favor of his retirement, at a time when many establishment GOP lawmakers are being targeted.