Updated Sep 13, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Mitt Romney won't seek second Senate term in 2024

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) walks through the Senate subway at the U.S. Capitol on September 11, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) walks through the Senate subway at the Capitol on Sept. 11 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Wednesday he will not seek a second term in the Senate, telling the Washington Post it is time for a new generation to "step up."

Why it matters: It marks the end of a decades-long political career for the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee, who in recent years became one of the most high-profile Republican critics of former President Trump.

What he's saying: "I have spent my last 25 years in public service of one kind or another. At the end of another term, I'd be in my mid-eighties. Frankly, it's time for a new generation of leaders," Romney, 76, said in a statement.

  • The statement comes at an inflection point over the advanced age of some of Washington's most powerful lawmakers, including President Biden, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) all of whom are over 80.
  • At 77, Trump has also faced attacks from GOP presidential primary rivals over his age.
  • Romney also took aim at Biden and Trump on climate change, foreign policy and federal spending. "Both men refuse to address entitlements even though they represent two thirds of federal spending," he said.

The backdrop: Romney, the son of former Michigan governor and presidential candidate George Romney, began his career in the private sector and was a co-founder of private equity firm Bain Capital.

  • He mounted an unsuccessful challenge to Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994 and helped save the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics before winning election as Massachusetts governor in 2002.
  • He ran for president in 2008, finishing behind John McCain in the GOP primary, and became the Republican nominee in 2012, losing to former President Obama.
  • He was elected to the Senate in 2018 after briefly being considered for secretary of state in the Trump administration.

State of play: Romney had stoked considerable anger from the GOP base by voting to convict Trump in both his Senate impeachment trials and generally positioning himself as one of the most moderate Senate Republicans.

  • A vote to censure Romney failed narrowly at the Utah Republican Party convention over his impeachment vote in 2021.
  • Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson formed an exploratory committee for Romney's seat and raised $2.2 million between April and June.
  • Utah State Attorney General Sean Reyes and Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs have reportedly been eyeing the seat as well.

What we're hearing: Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah) told Axios he is "not ruling anything out" when asked about a possible run for Romney's seat.

  • "I appreciate the message that we need younger leadership," the 43-year-old said. "I'm in a good spot right now, and it's all still early, so we'll see ... I'm not planning on anything."

Editor's note: This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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