Mitt Romney takes first step toward 2024 Senate reelection campaign

The Utah senator filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney speaks to media after a visit to the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023.

Sen. Mitt Romney quietly took the first step toward a reelection bid this week by filing a declaration of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. While the move is not a definitive indicator that Romney plans to run for another U.S. Senate term in 2024, it’s the strongest hint yet about his intentions.

The paperwork, a “statement of candidacy” filed on Tuesday, allows Romney to start raising and spending money for campaign purposes.

Romney has played coy when asked if he would seek a second term in 2024.

“The question for me is, what can I get done? I have a list of things I’m working on. I’ll make that assessment over the coming months, and sometime in the spring or summer, I’ll make that decision. I’m confident that I would win if I decide to run. I’ll have the resources, and I believe the people of Utah would be with me,” Romney said during an impromptu press conference at the Utah State Capitol in February.

Romney’s chief of staff, Liz Johnson, warned against reading too much into the filing.

“No new decision or announcement to share, and as the Senator has said, he will make a final decision in the coming months. In the meantime, we’re ensuring he’s well prepared to run if he chooses,” Johnson said.

Romney was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018 following the retirement of Sen. Orrin Hatch. He easily defeated Democrat Jenny Wilson by more than 30 percentage points.

Romney already has a good start on fundraising for a 2024 bid. The most recent campaign disclosure shows Romney with $592,569. For his first campaign in 2018, Romney raised $5.5 million and spent $5.2 million. Updated quarterly financial filings are due later this week.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mitt Romney gives his victory speech, at the Romney Headquarters, in Orem, on election night, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

There could be some hurdles in the way of a Romney reelection campaign.

A recent poll from OH Predictive Insights found that Romney is viewed favorably by 51% of Utahns, but more than half of the state’s Republicans don’t want him to run for another term in Washington. Last month the Emery County Republican Party narrowly rejected a proposed censure of Romney that accused him of “providing aid and comfort” to Democrats for twice voting to impeach former President Donald Trump.

Romney has racked up several bipartisan legislative accomplishments during his first term in office, including the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and $10 billion in COVID relief funds.

Several Utah Republicans are said to be eyeing a run for Romney’s seat in 2024.

Attorney General Sean Reyes reportedly discussed a possible U.S. Senate campaign with allies of Donald Trump last year. Politico first reported Trump personally encouraged Reyes to run for Romney’s seat during a pair of one-on-one meetings.

State Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, who lost to Romney in the 2018 GOP primary, is reportedly considering running again in 2024. Kennedy narrowly defeated Romney at the GOP State Convention but was routed by Romney in the primary election, losing by more than 40 points.

Former Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s name has popped up frequently as a possible candidate for U.S. Senate next year. Chaffetz told The Tribune last year he recently renewed his contract with Fox News, where he is a frequent guest host and contributor.

Other Republicans who may be hoping to run for Romney’s seat next year include House Speaker Brad Wilson and former Trump national security adviser Robert O’Brien.