HOLLADAY — Mitt Romney is once again going to have a home in Utah.
"Even though he's lived in different places around the country, I think we all count him as a Utahn. It's nice to see him back home," Romney's longtime friend Fraser Bullock said Wednesday.
Romney is building a new home in the Walker Lane area of Holladay and plans to live nearby while the house is being built, a source told the Deseret News Wednesday. Two of Romney's five sons live in Utah — Josh and Ben.
The two-time GOP presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor plans to split his time "pretty evenly" between Salt Lake City and his homes in La Jolla, Calif., near San Diego and a lakeside resort community in New Hampshire, the source said.
He will also spend time in his Boston apartment, located at his son Tagg's home there. Romney is the chairman of the executive committee of Tagg Romney's Boston-based investment firm, Solamere Capital.
This won't be the first time Romney has had a home in Utah. For years, he owned a Deer Valley vacation home where he stayed while running the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He sold that house in 2009.
Bullock, who served as the chief operating officer of the Olympics, said Utah remains a special place for Romney, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a graduate of Brigham Young University.
"He has a love of Utah, not only going to school here but, as he would put it, his best professional experience by far was in Utah," Bullock said. Plus, he said, Romney wants to spend more time with his children and grandchildren living in Utah.
But just because Romney's returning to Utah, no one should think he's eyeing a run for office in the state. "He's done," Bullock said. "Don't give it a second thought."
Another longtime Romney friend and supporter, Kirk Jowers, head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, also ruled out a political future in Utah for the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.
"I'm convinced Mitt Romney could be elected to anything he wanted in Utah but really doubt he will go down the path to elected office again in any capacity," Jowers said. He said Romney is coming back to spend time with his children and grandchildren here.
U. political science professor Matthew Burbank said he didn't see Romney having any interest in running for office in Utah despite his enormous popularity in the state. Romney won the GOP presidential primaries in Utah in 2008 and 2012 by huge margins.
"Obviously, he could easily run for any office he chose and get elected in this state, but I don't see him doing that," Burbank said, especially after being a national political figure for nearly a decade.
Burbank agreed being close to family is likely Romney's reason for living in Utah again.49 comments on this story
"He can live pretty much where he wants," Burbank said. "He'd like to have a house where he's close to family and he has family here. I think that's probably the single biggest motivation."
There may be other benefits for Romney, Burbank said.
"Certainly, if what you're looking for is your neighbors to say nice things about you, that's much more likely to happen here than Southern California," he said. "This is a state where everybody knows who he is and he has a lot of support."