Romney mulls strategy with eye on Senate bid

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday held a meeting of the minds with one of his most trusted advisers and a Utah political operative as he prepares to announce a run for a U.S. Senate seat in the next seven days, FOX Business has learned.

Continue Reading Below

At his mansion in Holladay, Utah, Romney met with longtime political aide and managing partner at his investment firm Solamere Capital, Spencer Zwick, and former chief of staff to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Boyd Matheson, to discuss his policy initiatives for his upcoming run for Senate, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

They came to an agreement that some of the campaign promises he should run on when he’s touring the state could include improving Utah’s public education system, infrastructure reform and combating the opioid epidemic, according to those familiar with the matter.

Romney's campaign initiatives are on the verge of going public with the former Massachusetts governor likely declaring his Senate candidacy next week, sources close to Romney tell FOX Business.

A spokeswoman for Romney did not return requests for comment. Zwick did not return calls for comment at the time of publication. Matheson declined to comment and would not confirm nor deny if the meeting took place.

Romney’s meeting with his two allies comes as he organizes his campaign team and gets ready to announce his campaign for outgoing Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s seat. Hatch revealed in early January that he will be retiring at the end of his seventh term in office, completing a historic 42-year career in the Senate.

Zwick’s attendance at the meeting should be no surprise as he’s been close to Romney since the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, and is expected to be a senior campaign adviser for his soon-to-be-announced run for Senate.

Romney began his foray into the national spotlight in 1999 as the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics, successfully capturing for Utah the coveted games for the first time ever. Zwick was hired to assist Romney with running the committee and was instrumental in erasing the Olympic organizers’ debt that added up to $379 million.

One year later, Romney became the governor of Massachusetts, following it five years later with his first unsuccessful presidential campaign. He lost the Republican nomination that year to Sen. John McCain of Arizona. He ran for a second time in 2012 against Barack Obama and eventually lost in the general election.

A battle against the opioid epidemic that’s swept through the state could be an insurmountable hurdle to climb for Romney if he pulls off a victory.

From 2013 to 2015, Utah ranked 7th-highest in the nation for drug overdose deaths, according to the latest data from the Utah Department Public of Health. In 2015 alone, 24 individuals within Utah died every month from a prescription opioid overdose.

Still, his chances of becoming the state’s next representative seem to be in his favor— the latest poll shows that if he enters the race he has a 64% approval over his likely Democrat opponent, Jenny Wilson.

The poll was conducted by The Salt Lake Tribune and the Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics with 85% of Republicans backing Romney for the seat, on top of the 55% of voters who say they’re unaffiliated. Even 18% of Democrats say they’d support Romney.

Updated 1/25/18