The inevitable has happened.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, announced his retirement on Tuesday to kick off the new year and giving up his pro tempore status as the third in line for the presidency.
"Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves," Hatch said in a video on Tuesday afternoon. "For me, that is soon approaching."
Hatch's retirement was up in the air for some time. Before his announcement, there was chatter within Republican circles that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is a resident of Holladay, Utah — a detail that was added to his Twitter bio Tuesday afternoon — would certainly throw his hat into the race if Hatch stepped aside. Looks like his window is open. He hasn't announced that he's officially running, but he released a statement thanking Hatch for his service.
If Romney runs, he would be the obvious favorite in the state he won by almost 48 points during the 2012 presidential election against former President Barack Obama. As of December 2017, Romney held a 69 percent approval rating. He's liked by 81 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of Democrats, and 61 percent of Independents.
But there are more people than just Romney who plan to run for Hatch's seat.
Of all the possible candidates, only one Republican, Chris Forbush, and two Democrats, businessman Mitchell Vice and Salt Lake City Councilwoman Jenny Wilson, have either declared they're running or announced they're seeking an exploratory committee in preparation for running.
If Romney does run, he'll have to worry about the possible candidacy of Dan Liljenquist, who ran against Hatch in the 2012 Republican primaries. Liljenquist, who served in the Utah state Senate, has actually posed the strongest challenge to Hatch, winning over 40 percent of the delegate vote in the state convention.
Others like former Rep. Jason Chaffetz and former 2016 presidential candidate Evan McMullin — who's already endorsed Romney — have dismissed they'll run in 2018. However, U.S. Ambassador to Russia and former Republican Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman as well as Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, could be a thorn in Romney's side should they decide to run as well.
But, for now, it would be Romney's race to lose, should he want to run — which he most definitely does. If it turns out that Romney becomes the next sitting senator from Utah, expect him to exact his revenge on President Trump for passing him over as secretary of state with some grandstanding and obstruction on important pieces of legislation should Republicans maintain control of the Senate beyond the 2018 midterms.