If Mitt Romney Can’t Win a Senate Nomination in Utah, Is the GOP Dead?

The almost-POTUS is headed for a runoff--because Utah Republicans just weren’t that into him. What is happening??

Oh, my. Mitt Romney, the man who was within spitting distance of the Oval Office just two elections ago, can’t lock up the nomination for a Senate seat in Utah. After a protracted technical battle royale at Saturday’s Utah GOP convention, no candidate managed to hit the required 60% mark required to be officially nominated as the Republican replacement for retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch. Instead, he’ll now face Rep. Mike Kennedy in the June primary.

Now, many may justifiably chalk this up to the Byzantine and controversial rules of the Utah Republican Party’s nominating process--which has been especially contested among the Party’s faithful through this election cycle. BUT. It doesn’t take much divination to see this as a portent of the mood of the Republican grassroots in the era of Trump. Romney, one of the more articulate and bold critics of Donald Trump during the 2016 election, should probably be a shoe-in, particularly in Utah. Charges of carpetbagging notwithstanding (Mitt only recently migrated to the state, having previously served as governor of ever-blue Massachusetts), you’d think the first Mormon ever nominated by a major party for President of the United States would be their Beyonce-equivalent at this point. Not so. The undercurrent of resentment toward #NeverTrumpers among the Red-blooded base runs deep. This is merely a symptom of the wider disease, as it were.

We may still see get a fresh Rom-nom in June. The numbers were close this weekend, and Romney’s known to be a decent man with a solid, competent governing record. But Kennedy, for all of his policy agreement with Romney, displayed one thing at the convention that distinguished him from the more seasoned, recognized statesman: he openly supported Trump...not just individual actions, but POTUS himself. That, apparently, profoundly resonated with attendees.

I don’t think this bodes well for November. I don’t just mean for Romney/Utah, but for the GOP’s chances overall. If this event is evidence of a wider trend across the country, the tribal instincts of much of the grassroots Republican constituency appears to be recklessly doubling down on Trumpism. We know Democratic voters en masse are energized for the Fall, craving payback for ‘16 (not to mention a firewall against a conservative replacement for Justice Kennedy if he retires from SCOTUS). If the GOP base continues to eschew self-awareness and reject qualified faces like Mitt Romney for their alleged impurity, they doom themselves to permanent minority party status. I’ll cop to getting it wrong, with countless others, in 2016. That does not, however, convince me that crass populism is a template for repeated victory in the future.

I’m not saying Romney is the right guy for the job. Only that the current internal party cleansing may be less of a swamp-draining and more of a self-immolation. Pray for sanity.

No surprise Romney did't get the sixty percent, surprise he came in second. Romney more a product of Michigan and Massachusetts then Utah. Mormons not necessarily budget hawks. Utah might now be a surprise for Trump. Romney had the prelude to Obamacare. The wealth of Romney can be questioned like that of Trump. Mormons are not anymore in one accord then other religions.

The GOP isn't dead, but (to paraphrase Obama) it is fundamentally changed.


I would like to see Kennedy win the nomination, I don't expect it. Romney and Kennedy were essentially tied. Romney will spend millions, along with his allies like Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, saying that Kennedy is the spawn of Satan. It is the standard practice. Then there was some anger at Mitt Romney collecting signatures so that he could get on the primary ballot no matter what happened at the Convention. Combine those two with the fact that Utah's convention makeup is probably significantly more conservative than the average GOP primary voter, and you probably have a comfortable Romney win. I hope not, but we have seen this play out before. Mike Lee (and Tim Bridgewater) defeated Bennett at the convention. The swamp then backed Bridgewater, but Lee won the primary by less than 3%. Kennedy's best shot was to knock Romney out at the convention and make him circumvent the process by getting on with signatures. The primary gets more difficult.


No, that was not a typo. Once again, Donald Trump has thrown his lot in with the swamp, against those fighting against it. He has endorsed Mitt Romney when other GOP options were available, or instead of just staying out. Add that to his endorsement and work for Luther Strange in Alabama, which after knocking out the best candidate in Mo Brooks, allowed Roy Moore to slide in and eventually resulted in the Democrats winning the seat.

To the extent that this was push-back against Romney for being anti-Trump, these voters seem to care more about Trump than he cares about himself (I didn't know that was possible). The reality is that Trump is playing a game. He enjoys the show. If he didn't, he would never endorse Romney. Of course Romney did kiss the ring to try and get a SoS job, so maybe he just realized that Romney is a weakling that can be exploited or made into a foil (like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker). As stated above, I believe Romney's anti-Trump statements are some, but not the primary factor in the poor performance of Romney relative to expectations.

I am one of the caucus delegates who voted on Saturday. In my conversations with dozens of other delegates, not a single one referred to whether or not any of the twelve candidates for this Senate seat supported or didn't support Trump. I did not vote for Trump in 2016 and I won't vote for him in 2020 because of the character flaws that many activists, including Mitt Romney, pointed out in 2016. My ideal candidate to replace Senator Hatch is a true conservative who will join Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Ben Sasse, and others in championing constitutional and conservative legislation. None of the twelve candidates met that standard, but Mike Kennedy came closer than Mitt Romney so he received my vote in the final round despite his support of President Trump. I believe those delegates who voted for Romney did so because they felt he could be a more effective Senator for Utah than Kennedy. How the candidates proposed dealing with out-of-control spending, federal overreach, immigration, and government regulation weighed more heavily on delegates' decisions than the candidate's support or opposition to Trump.


As Romney demonstrated in a presidential debate with Obama, he did when he burned a bridge with Trump. He has been a constant thorn in the side against Trump. I can't imagine how Trump would have endorsed him, unless it is just Trump playing games with him, but Romney could have avoided all of this. Bad politics all the way around. But it is what you get when your own chosen party is more interested in playing tug of war than getting Republicans elected. I know nothing about Kennedy, but that he did come out and said he was into supporting the President, and, unfortunately, those who see that as a negative, are just, plain blind. We are supposed to be working proactively in making gains, not playing petty ones.

Trump endorsed him because Trump is about what is best for Donald Trump. When what is good for Trump aligns with what is good for conservatives, Trump does good things. When they don't, he doesn't. This is why many of us will not give him 100% blind devotion. Trump has shown a surprising ability to take conservative criticism to heart and move in our direction after staking out an original leftist position (immigration, healthcare, etc.). To keep getting that movement, we have to slap his hand when he doesn't. We should understand that Trump endorsed Romney because he believed that Romney would easily win the seat, and it was to his political advantage to back the winner. It is the same reason Trump backed Luther Strange in Alabama. He was convinced that he would win and Trump wants an ally and want to win. I think he is making a mistake by getting into party primaries at all. I think it is an even bigger mistake that he is getting in on behalf of the swamp. At the end of the day, Trump doesn't want to drain the swamp, he just wants his own swamp creatures around him. Trump is delusional if he thinks a 6 year term, Senator Mitt Romney is going to be a reliable ally. At that point, Romney doesn't need anything from Trump and the power shifts back to him, away from Trump.


Score one for rational thinking and nuance, sir.


May be all true, but his policies have been more to the positive for the Constitution than several other Republican presidents, and, even though many have this hang up with his personality, and want to cast his life with the Devil, the race was never about his personal life, nor the Devil. It was about his policies, ET, and he was the one who happened to win the nomination. I don't understand why many people are still trying to hash this out. Do you think he should be impeached? That'll solve a lot of this, won't it? I have yet to see the perfect human being in the White House, and this one is no different. Maybe that makes me less of a Christian. I'm beginning to think that's a main theme around here. I wish it wasn't because we will never be able to argue over how much better Ted Cruz would have done better. There is a point in time that we should be working towards building majorities in Congress, and shoveling this nonsense aside, or we will just see another repeat of undoing anything the Democrats can. do I like his personality? Does it really matter? Is Donald Trump forcing you or anyone else to become less morally convicted?

I don't give him 100%, either, but I will give his past a pass because it has nothing to do with how he is governing, right now. There is always the possibility that he learned a lot from his past, also, isn't there?

This is exactly it. Utah primary voters wouldn't have been thrilled about Romney for Congress last year, the year before, the year before that, and on and on. Trump has little to do with it. Sure, you can say this is just my opinion, but it's a very informed opinion filled with personal experience.

People are trying to hash this out because Trump is killing the Republican Party.

He is setting up to be the 'Republican Obama' - able to win 2 terms (if we don't do the smart thing and primary him) but also able to see our party flushed out of power at the state & congressional level.

Will it matter that we are looking at losing Congress AND state legislatures/governorships despite a rip-roaring economy & massive successes on all fronts, solely because the 'leader' of our party behaves like a mix between a frat-bro & a spoiled trust-fund brat?

Will it matter to have the Supreme Court deadlocked 4:4 because a Democratic Senate won't confirm Trump's pick (or worse, to see Trump nominate a New York Values liberal to replace Kennedy because he wants a 'win')?

Will it matter to be unable to pass policy for 4-6 years?

Will it matter to have pioneering Republican policies in states like Wisconsin erased, despite 3%-and-below unemployment, budget surpluses, etc?

All of those things matter - and matter in a way that makes Trump - almost ENTIRELY due to his 'lot with the Devil' unprofessional behavior/mannerisms - a millstone around our necks.


I'm actually not surprised on this. The most conservative electable person is different for president of the United States than it is for US Senator from Utah. Presuming no significant scandal or a significant 3rd party effort, whoever is the Republican Nominee for the seat is going to beat Jenny Wilson or whoever the Democrats select regardless of Trump endorsement, Utah is just too red for it not to be true. Given that, why not select someone viewed as more conservative.

Having said that, I seriously doubt that Romney will lose the primary to Kennedy, the republican primary voters are not as conservative as those at the convention.


Nothing in what I said had anything to do with his past. I am talking about Donald Trump today, as President. He is transactional. He has to either get or have real consequences to get him to move in a certain direction.

This race illustrates my point exactly. Here we have Trump endorsing Mitt Romney when there are other options, including sitting it out. Trump is actively helping the swamp and he should be called out on it. (He also did so with Luther Strange, which ended up costing the GOP a Senate seat, though the primary responsibility was not Trump's, as he was behind Roy Moore, Mitch McConnell, Luther Strange and Richard Shelby in fault.)

When Trump screws up, he needs to be called out. Endorsing Romney gives Romney the power, not Trump. Once he is elected, Romney is free to do whatever he wants to Trump. The power shifts.

Trump has implemented things that are more "positive to the Constitution than several other Republican presidents". We have only had one conservative President since prior to WWII, so it is kind of like being a one eyed man in the land of the blind.

You are pushing back to policy, which was what my entire post was about - Trump's actions as President and how he keeps endorsing and supporting the swamp. Either you really do give Trump 100% support, or you think Romney is the best choice for Senator. There is no other option. If Romney isn't the best, then Trump has to be called out.

I haven't seen any justification to impeach Trump, much less convict him of anything. It will all be a show anyway, designed to embarrass him. He will never be convicted because even if the Democrats had the votes, they don't want Pence and won't turn Trump into a martyr and energize the GOP. This is about embarrassing Trump, not removing him from office.


To answer the question "If Mitt loses in a GOP primary, is the GOP dead?", let me be succinct. No, it is NOT dead. What it shows is the opposite: a healthy acknowledgement that many voters have firmly stated that they do NOT want the GOP to become a progressive-lite version of the socialist Democratic Party, but to retain its tenets in a - gasp!! - federal "republic" of Constitutional governance. Romney essentially has taken over the "Jeb!" role in the Utah senate election, but the people are having none of this milquetoastiness of appeasement. While Edwards may not be Cruzian or Leean in his campaign politics, at this point we have no choice but to get the most constitutional candidate over the winning line, then more importantly, hold his feet to the fire when he's in office. But the fact that Romney was essentially supposed to get the Hillary coronation treatment en route to his Senate Leadership post (possibly even replacing McConnell), to derail that plan would be a huge victory for, dare I say it, the GOP!

Sorry, meant Mike Kennedy, not Edwards.


Mitt deserves to lose because he's a loser.

No, the Republicans in Utah have already figured out that the Former Governor of one of the most liberal States in the Country isn't a real Republican.