Sen Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential nominee for president who has become the most vocal critic of former president Donald Trump in his party, announced on Wednesday he would not seek a second term in the Senate.
The former Utah governor, who first won election in 2018, made the announcement in a video, citing his accomplishments, but also saying that at 76, he did not think he would be capable of doing the job in another term.
“I spent my last 25 years in public service of one kind or another,” he said. “At the end of another term, I'd be in my mid 80s. Frankly, it's time for a new generation of leaders. They're the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”
Mr Romney’s words come as senators from both parties face questions about their advanced age. Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the oldest serving member of the body at 89, has faced frequent questions about her declining memory. Similarly, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 81, faced two episodes where he froze when speaking to reporters both in Washington and Kentucky.
During his time in the US Senate, Mr Romney emerged as a dealmaker and intermediary between Democrats and Republicans, brokering the first two rounds of Covid-19 relief funds during the Trump administration.
During the Biden administration, he negotiated the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the first piece of gun safety in almost 30 years and a bill codifying protections for same-sex and interacially married couples. He also voted to confirm Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.
In addition, Mr Romney emerged as one of the few vocal critics of Mr Trump during his presidency, serving as the sole Republican who voted to convict Mr Trump during his first impeachment in 2020 and one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Mr Trump in his second impeachment for his role in the January 6 riot.
The son of Michigan governor George Romney, Mr Romney first attempted to run for Senate in 1994 against Ted Kennedy and lost. In 2002, he became governor of Massachusetts, where he served a single term.
Mr Romney ran for president twice, once in 2008 when he lost the GOP nomination, and again in 2012 when he earned the Republican nomination when Barack Obama won re-election.
During his 2012 campaign he called Russia “without question, our number one geopolitical foe” on the campaign trail and has since become one of the few supporters of assisting Ukraine as it pushes back against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assault.
A committed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Mr Romney was the first presidential nominee from a major party to win a nomination.
During his 2012 campaign, Mr Trump, then a reality television star and real estate mogul, endorsed Mr Romney, which the latter readily accepted. By 2016, Mr Romney emerged as a loud critic of Mr Trump, though he dined with Mr Trump when he was in the running to join the then-president-elect’s administration.
In 2018, he ran for Senate to replace retiring Orrin Hatch. In his video, he excoriated both Mr Trump and Mr Biden for not tackling federal spending and climate change.
“Both men refuse to address entitlements even though they know that this represents two thirds of federal spending,” he said. “Donald Trump calls global warming a hoax, and President Biden offers feel good solutions that make no difference to the global climate.”
Mr Romney said he would continue to serve out the duration of his term and focus on top priorities.
The senator’s announcement means that four out of the seven Senators who voted to convict Mr Trump will have left before they faced voters. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Ben Sasse of Nebraska all opted to either resign or not seek re-election.
His exit will leave only Sens Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska won re-election last year in a state that has ranked-choice voting.