Romney would especially like to mount a challenge for a Senate seat in Utah, something the Republican National Committee has indicated it would support.
The problem: both Utah senators are Republicans and neither has shown an interest in retiring or moving on. Robert Bennett is up for re-election in 2004. Orrin Hatch is up in 2006. “We’d like Bennett to take a powder,” says an RNC policy staffer. “He’s almost 70 and there is probably something in the administration for him if he left. I know the White House has spoken to [Utah Gov.] Mike Leavitt about the situation. Leavitt has indicated he’d be open to nominating Romney should an opening occur.”
Hatch has long aspired to serve on the Supreme Court, but that likelihood has diminished over the years. Even if Republicans won back the Senate, it’s doubtful Hatch would be Bush’s first choice. “Bennett is the more likely of the two to ease out,” says a Senate staffer on the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. “We wouldn’t stand in the way of that forced retirement.”
The White House would like Romney to get one of those seats. He’s younger, telegenic, and considered a rising star in Republican circles for his fund-raising ability.
Getting Bennett to retire might also be predicated on getting a new Senate GOP leader. Current leader Trent Lott has thus far been loath to pressure colleagues into early retirement, even it might help the party’s fortunes.p> THE ALBANY SYNDROME
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H/T to National Review Online