Laura Seitz, Deseret News
FILE – Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney exits the auditorium after a speech on the Republican presidential at the University of Utah, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Salt Lake City.
SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney will launch his campaign for U.S. Senate on Thursday in an online video, sources confirmed Wednesday.
Romney’s first public appearance as a candidate would be as the keynote speaker at the Utah County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner in Provo on Friday.
Since telling the Deseret News a year ago this month that he was leaving the door open for another run for political office, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee has been coy about his future.
Romney has not faced the media during that time, and has deflected questions about running when reporters have caught up to him. He spoke at two conventions in Salt Lake City last month but didn’t address the lingering question or joked about it. His commentary on political issues has come via Twitter or Facebook.
Two weeks ago, Romney tweeted that he would make an announcement Feb. 15 about running for the seat held by retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
On Monday, he again took to social media to announce he is going to make an announcement.
“Stay tuned for my announcement on the Utah Senate race this Thursday. Visit www.mittromney.com to be one of the first to know!” he posted on Facebook. The website has a picture of Romney and link to join “Team Mitt.”
Utah’s adopted favorite son would become the instant front-runner to replace Hatch, who announced in January he won’t seek an eighth term this year.
Democratic Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson has been campaigning for Hatch’s seat since last summer. Democrat Mitchell Vice and Libertarian Craig Bowden are also running.
It’s likely not a coincidence that Romney’s announcement falls during the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Games began Feb. 9 and go through Feb. 25.
Romney, who spent much of his professional life in Massachusetts, where he served as governor, is best known in Utah for turning around the scandal-ridden 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.