This afternoon, Sen. Orrin Hatch announced that he’ll retire from the Senate rather than seek re-election. This opens the door for former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to run for Sen. Hatch’s seat.

I can’t help but contrast the difference between Sen. Hatch and Sen. Franken, who resigned in disgrace earlier this afternoon. Sen. Franken was a hot-headed malcontent who didn’t get along with others. Sen. Hatch, though, was well-liked by all of his colleagues, including Democrats. Sen. Hatch figured out a way to work with liberals like Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Ted Kennedy. By comparison, there isn’t a Minnesotan who could picture Sen. Franken working with Ted Cruz or Mike Lee.

In typical Hatch fashion, Sen. Hatch graciously exited the stage, saying “every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. I may be leaving the Senate, but the next chapter in my public service is just beginning.” By comparison, Sen. Franken was as defiant as he was disgusting, even suggesting that he’d been unfairly accused. With all due respect, Sen. Franken, if you were innocent, why didn’t you fight to clear your name? Perhaps, it’s because you weren’t that innocent?

Here’s Sen. Hatch’s gracious retirement speech:

As I said earlier, that opens the door for Mitt Romney to run for Sen. Hatch’s seat:

Mr. Hatch’s decision clears the way for the political resurrection of Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee who is now a Utah resident and is popular in the Mormon-heavy state. Mr. Romney has told associates he would likely run if Mr. Hatch retires. “It would be difficult to defeat Mitt Romney if he were running here,” said David Hansen, a longtime Utah Republican strategist and chairman of Mr. Hatch’s political organization.

After the 2018 elections and Congress is wrapping up business, politicians from both sides of the aisle will praise Orrin Hatch. At the end of business today and Al Franken leaves the Senate, few people will remember him a month from now.

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