Boyd Matheson, a Utah conservative and former chief of staff for Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), announced Monday he will not run for Senate in 2018, leading to speculation that the door might be open for a Mitt Romney run, according to The Hill.
Romney was the Republican presidential nominee who lost to Barack Obama in 2012. He has been a prominent critic of President Donald Trump during the GOP primaries, his campaign and his presidency. “If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished,” Romney said in a speech at the University of Utah in March 2016.
“Here's what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” Romney said in 2016, according to CNN. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He's playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.”
“Dishonesty is Donald Trump's hallmark,” Romney continued.
Jeff Flake, Trump's current most outspoken critic in the Senate, will not seek re-election in 2018.
Matheson, currently the president of a conservative think tank, said he will not seek the Senate seat in Utah, now occupied by Orrin Hatch. Rumors have been circulating that Hatch plans on retiring at the end of his term in 2018, although advisers insist his future remains undecided.
Matheson instead plans on starting an outside political group called Sutherland Leadership Center, per The Hill.
“I have decided that I will not seek a seat in the United States Senate,” Matheson said in a video according to The Hill. “Instead, I will focus my effort and attention on the desperate need in the nation for strengthening and building leaders while advancing real dialogue about the principles and policies that will create a better tomorrow for America.”