SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch hasn't given up on the notion of running for an eighth term.
The Senate's longest-serving Republican has hinted at seeking re-election several times since saying four years ago that the 2012 election would be his last. But the outcome of the 2016 election apparently has him thinking more seriously about another run.
"I’ve got a lot of people asking me to. A lot of my colleagues are asking me to, a lot of people in Utah are asking me to," Hatch, R-Utah, told the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. "You know that I had said that this would be my last term, but circumstances have greatly changed, so I’ll have to look at it."
Those people include fellow senators, county commissioners and mayors in Utah and other state Republicans.
Hatch, 82, campaigned for President-elect Donald Trump and is expected to be a key player on several of his priorities. Hatch might also find the GOP controlling the White House and Congress for possibly the next four years appealing — a rarity going back decades. His influence might have never been higher.
"I have a lot of people pressuring me to, because they know what I can do. And they know that as chairman of the Finance Committee, we make a real difference around here," Hatch said. "I’ll honestly look at it, as much as I can."
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said Hatch played a key role in preserving the GOP Senate majority.
"His effectiveness as a legislator is unparalleled. We turn to him when we need to get things done," Wicker, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a statement.
The Finance Committee would lead efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as well as overhauling the tax code. The committee also has authority over Medicaid and Medicare, and deals with the transportation funding and infrastructure spending.
Don Peay, with Utahns for Trump, said Hatch talks regularly with the president-elect and is key to advancing the Republican agenda.
Utah GOP National Committeewoman Enid Mickelsen is also among those hoping Hatch considers another run.
"We have a new president, a vacancy on the Supreme Court and divisions to heal. Nobody can unite the Republican party in Utah and nationally like Orrin Hatch," she said.
Hatch could face some Republican competition if he decided to run again, including former CIA operations officer and BYU graduate Evan McMullin, who ran for president as a conservative independent.
McMullin visited Hatch in his Washington, D.C., office Tuesday.
"I like him a lot. He’s a real nice guy," the senator told Roll Call. "He’s a very decent guy as far as I’m concerned. I think he has a future.”
Hatch said he thought McMullin would be looking to run for a lesser office than president, and then jokingly delivered a warning to McMullin should he decide to challenge him — if Hatch, in fact, runs for re-election.
"That’d be his right, but that’d be a big mistake," Hatch said.
McMullin said Thursday that Hatch's comment caught him off guard because they never talked about the possibility of him running for Senate.
"It's true that I may run for office again. I haven't made a decision about that," McMullin said. "It's something on my list to consider and think about."53 comments on this story
If he were to seek another elected office, he said Utah would be the "most natural" place to do it. McMullin was born in Provo but grew up in Washington state.
McMullin said he's still committed to starting a new conservative movement in the country that promotes limited government, paying down the national debt and religious liberty.
Other possible 2018 candidates include Mitt Romney's son Josh Romney, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., and Derek Miller, Gov. Gary Herbert's former chief of staff.