As he prepares to bring the first tax code re-write since 1986 to the Senate floor, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah is saying his Senate service might not be nearing its end.
In a report published Tuesday, Hatch told the Wall Street Journal he does intend to seek another term.
“I’m planning on running again because I still have the chairmanship of the Finance Committee and they’ll never be another Utahn that’s chairman of the committee, at least not for 40 or 50 years,” Hatch said.
Hatch has wielded the gavel of the powerful tax-writing committee since the start of the last Congress in 2015, meaning that under Republican conference rules he would have two more years of eligibility as chairman at the start of his potential next term in 2019.
According to the Journal, Hatch emphasized that a final decision would not come until the end of 2017 or the start of 2018.
There has been widespread speculation the 83 year-old Hatch will retire at the end of his current term, particularly if there’s interest in the seat from former GOP presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
The Romney family has longstanding ties to Utah, and despite the value placed on Senate seniority, the well-known former presidential nominee might have some more clout than an average freshman lawmaker.
One potential conservative rival, Sutherland Institute President Boyd Matheson, said Monday that he would not mount a bid for Senate in Utah.
“I have decided that I will not seek a seat in the United States Senate. 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,” Matheson said on KSL NewsRadio.
Matheson is a former chief of staff to Utah’s other Republican senator, Mike Lee.
In addition to serving as chairman of the Finance Committee, Hatch is the Senate president pro tempore, as the longest-serving senator in the majority party.