Republican U.S. Orrin Hatch announced today that he will not seek a seventh term in November, creating a third open seat for Republicans.

When Hatch ran for re-election in 2012 he promised not to seek another term in 2018, but has spent the last two years rethinking that decision. While the seat has been in Solid Republican given the heavily Republican tilt of the state, Hatch has come under increasing criticism from all corners for considering another term, and for his attempts to get along with President Trump, who is less popular in Utah than he is in other Republican-leaning states.

It is widely expected that 2012 GOP presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will seek the GOP nomination. Romney, who directed the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, remains popular in the state and would be a heavy favorite in the general election. In that respect, Romney would probably put this seat more firmly in Republicans’ grasp than Hatch, who might have drawn a competitive primary challenge.

The leading Democrat is Jenny Wilson, a member of the Salt Lake County Commission. She grew up in Utah politics; her father, Ted Wilson, was Mayor of Salt Lake City. And, in an interesting twist, Wilson worked for Romney on the Olympic Committee.

The race stays in the Solid Republican column.

Image: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

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