Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
FILE - Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) speaks at a town hall meeting at Richfield High School in Richfield on Friday, May 12, 2017. Rep. Chris Stewart said Wednesday he would “almost certainly” run for Sen. Orrin Hatch’s seat if the seven-term Republican decides not to seek re-election.

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Chris Stewart said Wednesday he would “almost certainly” run for Sen. Orrin Hatch’s seat if the seven-term Republican decides not to seek re-election.

Stewart, a Republican, said he came to the decision in the past several months but would support Hatch if he seeks another term. Hatch, he said, has “real power” in Washington and would do a lot of good for Utah if he were to remain in office.

The 83-year-old Hatch has indicated he will run again but has not announced a decision. Stewart said the senator has had a distinguished career and has earned the right to make the decision in his own time frame.

Stewart said he has talked to Hatch about running for Senate but didn’t want to characterize the senator’s reaction, other than to say he was supportive.

Stewart said he has reached out “a little” in terms of fundraising and gauging support for a Senate bid. But he said he doesn’t want to be a “stealth” candidate who says he's supporting Hatch while campaigning at the same time.

“We’re patient,” he said.

Wednesday wasn’t the first time Stewart has said he might run for the Senate seat if Hatch doesn’t run. He made similar statements when asked about it earlier this year.

Stewart, 57, has represented Utah’s 2nd Congressional District since 2013. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee.