Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican who has drawn plenty of ire in his bright-red state for being critical of former President Donald Trump, could see a 2024 primary challenge from a known Trump ally.
According to Politico, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who supported Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election results, could announce his primary battle against Romney this spring, which would give him plenty of time to raise money and for Trump to raise awareness of his ally’s candidacy.
Reyes, who has been elected statewide three times, in recent weeks has discussed the matter with key players in Utah politics and with allies of the former president, according to a person who is familiar with Reyes’ plans. Reyes will make a final decision and likely announce his intentions in May.
Romney hasn’t publicly discussed his 2024 plans. The 75-year-old former GOP presidential nominee and Massachusetts governor is being encouraged by some anti-Trump Republicans to run again for president, though multiple political operatives in Utah believe Romney is likely to retire from politics at the end of his current Senate term.
“Sean is very seriously considering running, regardless if Mitt runs or not,” the person said. “He’s confident that regardless of what Sen. Romney wants to do, he’s going to pursue this.”
“I guarantee Trump will come up with somebody,” added Carson Jorgensen, chair of the Utah Republican Party. “There’s enough vitriol there that no matter if Trump is running for president, he will run a candidate against Romney.”
Reyes served as Utah co-chair for Trump’s reelection campaign. He reportedly had face-to-face meetings with Trump in September and December 2020, according to a source familiar with the AG’s plans.
Both times, Trump reportedly urged Reyes to run against Romney.
“There isn’t a Republican candidate in the country who isn’t seeking the support of President Trump,” said spokesperson Taylor Budowich.
“Mitt Romney will be replaced in 2024 by a champion for America First, that goes without question — he abandoned Utah and caved to the Radical Left.”
State Republicans were mulling a drive to recall Romney in February 2021 after he voted with Democrats on Thursday to convict Trump on one impeachment charge.
GOP lawmakers said they were upset that the vote could harm state initiatives by angering the president, but they were happy that Romney at least returned quickly after the vote to explain it.