The Senate’s longest-serving Republican member, Orrin Hatch (Utah), announced his retirement Tuesday. Hatch, 83, has been in the U.S. Senate since 1977.

Hatch, who had recently said he wasn’t ready to leave yet, clearly has had a change of heart. We wish him well, but it is long past time Hatch left.

The question now is, who will run for Hatch’s seat? Mitt Romney is currently seen as the heir apparent and has been looking to run. If Romney decides to run in Utah, he will be a  shoe in.

“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.

Whether or not that’s an improvement over Hatch remains to be seen.