What Mitt Romney doesn’t mean for re-election

Mitt Romney has announced he will not run for re-election in 2024 and will leave the Senate after a single term.

The Utah Republican's departure is likely to further reduce the size of the already shrinking anti-Trump coalition within the GOP if the seat opens up in the safe red state.

Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, was the only member of the Republican Party to vote to convict Mr. Trump in both impeachment trials.

In an exit interview with The Washington PostMr. Romney, 76, urged a new generation to “step up” and “shape the world they will live in,” in a not-so-obvious swipe at President Joe Biden, 80, and former President Donald Trump , 77.

Mr. Romney told the newspaper that he is leaving the Senate because he believes a second term would not be as productive or satisfying as his first. He blamed House Republicans and the leadership of Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump. In a video announcing his decision, he indicated that a second term would end when he was in his mid-80s.

“The Anti-Trump Caucus is likely to lose a member”

His departure likely means a further entrenchment of Trumpism in the Republican Party. Mr. Romney recounted The post That would have helped someone other than Mr. Trump become the Republican nominee in 2024, but “that obviously isn’t going to happen.”

“I doubt my support will mean anything positive for any of the candidates at the finish line. I have no plans to get involved in it,” he said.

“It is quite clear that the party is leaning towards a populist demagogue message,” he added.

Election analyst Nathaniel Rakich of Thirty-five wrote on

Mr. Romney noted that the party is now very different from when he won the nomination in 2012 and that his wing of the GOP is “very, very small” compared to the wing led by Mr. Trump.

But he added: “If it can change in the direction of a populist, it can change back in the direction of my wing of the Republican Party.”

“I think we have pressure to be right and in the end the right will prevail,” he told the newspaper.

The decline of traditional Republican foreign policy

Mr. Romney's departure could also lead to a further decline in traditional Republican foreign policy, including the departure of a strong voice in support of Ukraine from the party.

“I'm listening to some people in the Trump wing talking about how we should be ready to just go to war with China in the Taiwan Strait, and I say, ‘Are you really ready to go to war with China?'” ” “and at the same time blocked further aid to Ukraine.

“Our stance towards China has been significantly strengthened by Russia's weakness in Ukraine and the support we have provided to Ukraine, as well as the strengthening of NATO,” he said The post.

He said that to dissuade China from its current path, the United States must unite with other countries. Mr. Romney is one of the few Republicans who has not explicitly criticized the Biden administration's recent engagement with China.

“I have great confidence in [Secretary of State] Tony Blinken. I think he understands that and is striving to do that,” Mr. Romney said.

Possible reinforcement of election denial within the GOP

The Utah senator's departure from the Senate could also create room for further election denial within the GOP.

“I think it is paramount to maintain our commitment to the Constitution and the liberal constitutional order,” he said The post. “And I know there are some in the MAGA world who want Republican rule or authoritarian rule from Donald Trump. But I think they may be forgetting that the majority of people in America would not vote for Donald J. Trump. The majority would probably vote for the Democrats.”

“A very large portion of my party really doesn’t believe in the Constitution,” Mr. Romney told McKay Coppins The Atlantic.

Mr Romney shared his blunt opinion of Republican Ohio Senator JD Vance, who went from being a Trump critic to a strong ally in his run for the seat in 2022.

“I don’t know that I can disrespect anyone more than JD Vance,” he told Coppins.

He also criticized Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and Texas Senator Ted Cruz for spreading doubts about democracy for their own political gain.

“You know better!” Mr. Romney told Coppins about her election denial. “Josh Hawley is one of the smartest people in the Senate, if not the smartest, and Ted Cruz could give him a run for his money.”

They “made a calculation that placed politics above the interests of liberal democracy and the constitution.”

“I doubt I’ll work with Josh Hawley on anything,” he added.

The possible replacements

Republican Rep. Blake Moore of Utah was asked if he would be willing to run for Mr. Romney's seat. He said he liked Mr. Romney's message about a new generation taking over, but added: “I'm in a good place right now.”

“It’s all still early. So we'll see… I'm not ruling anything out or planning anything,” he said loudly Axios.

Joe Szymanski of Daily elections tweeted that Mr. Romney's departure “opens up a big Senate race in Utah that [Republican] will get the nod. The big question will likely revolve around popular Gov. Spencer Cox and whether he wants the job. Once that’s decided, we’ll see where it goes.”

He added that other possible candidates include Utah House Speaker Brian Wilson, who has formed a speculative committee, state Attorney General Sean Reyes, former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, former Utah state Rep. Becky Edwards, and Utah Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson.