Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, announced Tuesday he will retire from the U.S. Senate at the end of 2018 and will not seek an eighth term in office despite calls from President Trump for him to run again for his seat.
"Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves," Hatch said in a video released Tuesday afternoon, referring to his boxing days. "For me, that is soon approaching."
"That’s why, after much prayer and discussion with family and friends, I've decided to retire at the end of this term," Hatch said. "Although I will miss serving you in the Senate, I look forward to spending more time with family, especially my sweet wife Elaine, whose unwavering love and support made all of this possible."
Hatch's announcement comes after months of posturing about a potential run for an eighth term, which included overtures from President Trump last month during his trip to Salt Lake City. During his 2012 campaign, Hatch said that the campaign would be his last, but continued to keep the door open to one more run.
The posturing also included him trying to potentially pull Mitt Romney into the race as his potential successor. At one point, Hatch said he would consider stepping aside if they got a "really outstanding person" to run for the seat and mentioned Romney specifically. Romney has kept the door open to a run and has been laying the groundwork for a bid in recent months if Hatch went through with his 2012 campaign promise.
Throughout the last few months, Hatch has remained an influential voice within the Senate GOP, including during the tax reform debate that concluded last month with the passing of the GOP's tax bill. Just weeks before the bill's passage, Republicans thought the bill would be a feather in Hatch's cap as he continued to debate his political future.
"[W]e’re not sure what Orrin’s future is," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the time. "Of course, he’s chairman of the Finance Committee, and just achieved a great victory with this Senate-passed tax bill."
"It’s quite a capstone to a long career," McConnell added.
Hatch, 83, is the longest-serving Senate Republican and serves as the President pro tempore of the Senate. He is currently the third in line for the presidency behind Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Should he run for re-election, Sen. Thad McCochran, R-Miss., would become the President pro tempore of the Senate.