Mitt Romney, Mike Kennedy battle for Utah Senate seat: A look at the candidates

With Sen. Orrin Hatch’s retirement this year, two men are vying for the Republican nomination to replace him: Mitt Romney and Mike Kennedy.

Like Romney, Kennedy is wealthy — only not nearly as much. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Kennedy’s net worth is somewhere between $1.1 million and $2.6 million. In comparison, Romney’s is between $73.7 million and at the least $271 million, according to the newspaper.

Kennedy and Romney are attempting the nomination for Hatch’s seat. Whoever wins will face Democrat Jenny Wilson, a city councilwoman, in the general election.

Ironically, Romney lost his Massachusetts Senate bid to a Kennedy — Ted Kennedy — in 1994.

The Republican duo are expected to face off in a debate on May 29.

Read on for a look at the Republican candidates.

Mitt Romney

President Trump has already endorsed Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, for Senate in Utah. ( Reuters/ Jim Urquhart)

This Senate race isn’t Mitt Romney’s first rodeo. He’s governed Massachusetts, ran for Senate and was named the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. Additionally, Romney was president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee when it was behind the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

At the Utah Republican convention earlier this year, Romney was unable to defeat nation Rep. Mike Kennedy to avoided a July runoff election.

But Romney, 71, told Deseret News he’s already constructed relationships with dozens of members of the Senate over the years.

Romney was one of President Trump’s harshest Republican critics during the 2016 election. According to Romney, the tension has softened, especially after he was considered for the secretary of state job.

“I’m with his domestic policy agenda that he has put in place in so far — lower taxes, lower regulation, lower bureaucracy, ” Romney told Deseret News. He added that Trump has been “pretty effective” so far.

In February, Trump endorsed Romney for the Senate seat.

While Romney has spent much of their own lives in Massachusetts, he has considered Utah his home for at least 10 years, according to Deseret News. Utah has been Romney’s permanent residence since 2014. Romney said he and his wife plan to live in the country for “the rest of[ their] lives.”

With now-House Speaker Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney ran for president in 2012 as the Republican nominee, losing to incumbent President obama. However, Romney carried Utah in that election with more than 72 percent of the vote.

Romney is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Harvard University. He would later co-found investment firm Bain Capital. He and his wife, Ann, have five children and 24 grandchildren, according to his campaign website.

Mike Kennedy

Aside from being a nation lawmaker, Mike Kennedy has also practised law and medication. ( AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer)

Since 2013, Mike Kennedy has served as a state representative in Utah. But the 49 -year-old has held many jobs, including practicing law and medicine.

Despite Mitt Romney’s notoriety, Kennedy forced a June runoff between the two candidates at the nation GOP convention in April, finishing ahead of the former presidential nominee. But as The Spectrum reported, winning over the votes of Utahns is a different process than delegates at the Republican convention.

Kennedy’s main focus in the U.S. Senate would be the deficit, according to The Spectrum. He said a climbing deficit “would be our greatest national security threat.”

On his campaign website, Kennedy slammed the takeover of national monuments for “political control” instead of only “protecting historical and cultural sites.” He also said education decisions would be best determined by nation and local governments as opposed to “unelected bureaucrats in Washington.”

According to Deseret News, Kennedy merely sponsored and passed one bill during the 2018 legislature: legislation that mandates the Utah Driver License Division and State Board of Education inform student drivers about how to improve air quality and vehicle emissions. He was also asked to lead the Utah School Safety Commission in aftermath of recent mass school shootings that have beset the nation, according to the newspaper.

In the legislature, he serves on the Health and Human Services, House Rules and Transportation committees, among others.

Kennedy said he was raised by a single mother “in less than fortunate circumstances, ” adding that he “worked hard to find success and offer a better life for his family.”

Kennedy graduated from Brigham Young University before attending Michigan State University for medical school. He would afterward earn a statute degree from BYU.

He and his wife have eight children.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.

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