Republican Senator Hatch says he will not seek re-election

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan R-Wis. left accompanied by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch R-Utah signs the final version of the GOP tax bill during an enrollment ceremony at the

Two little-known Democrats filed papers to run for the U.S. Senate in 2018.

Orrin Hatch of Utah says he will not seek re-election after serving more than 40 years in the Senate, opening the door for former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to run for his seat.

"I've always been a fighter. I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington", he said. "And for me, that time is soon approaching", Hatch said in a video statement posted on Twitter.

The powerful Senate Finance Committee chairman played a significant role in helping Republicans pass a major tax overhaul before Christmas.

Romney, who last served in government as the governor of MA from 2003 through 2007, has been rumored for months to be planning a run for the seat held by longtime Republican Sen. In a very statesman-like way, Romney said Hatch "represented the interests of Utah" with honor and distinction. But Hatch, who emerged as one of the presidents most avid loyalists in the Senate, made a decision to retire after discussing the matter with his family over the holidays.

Romney, former Republican governor of MA, has deep roots-and an address -in Utah, where members of the Mormon Church have an abiding influence over the state's politics and elections. Romney, a Mormon, has strong ties in the state, helping lead the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Romney pilloried Trump in a March 2016 speech, calling him a "phony" and "a fraud".

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