Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, hugs U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah , Friday, June 8, 2012, in Salt Lake City. Romney is making a stop in the Beehive State for some fund raising events and to show his support for the 78-year-old, six term senator who is facing a tough primary election on June 26. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

There is big buzz about Mitt Romney. Orrin Hatch may be retiring and, according to The Atlantic’s sources, the former Gov. and presidential candidate is poised to run to replace him, though on the record sources cast doubt on the entire premise.

Via The Atlantic:

Sources close to both men said plans have already been set in motion for Hatch to retire and for Romney to run, but they cautioned that the timing of the announcements have not yet been finalized, and that either man could still change his mind. They spoke on condition of anonymity, because the plans are not yet public, and the subject is sensitive to Hatch. Already, though, the expected developments are reshaping the state’s political landscape.

Derek Miller, the CEO of Utah’s World Trade Center who said he was exploring a bid for the seat earlier this year, said the plan for Romney to run had been “reported to me as a ‘done deal.’” He added, “if Romney runs, I will fully support him.”

Two things in this are nearly certain. Orrin Hatch will probably not run for re-election as he will be about 85-86. This would put him into Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond country. The second part is that Utah, barring deus ex machina, is a gimme state for the GOP. If Mitt Romney decided to enter the race, he’d be a hands down favorite on name recognition, religious affinity, and his involvement in saving the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games. This is true whether or not Hatch was anointing him as successor.

Orrin “don’t count your Hatches before they chicken” Hatch is a solid, if mediocre, senator who has some conservative instincts but none as strong as being a company man. There are much worse in the Senate. As Erick Erickson says:

Conservatives need someone who can help Mike Lee in the Senate and I’m not sure Romney is the guy. But I suspect he would be the front runner if he chose to throw his hat in the ring.

I’ve never been a Romney fan. I don’t see him as being a big value-add to the conservative side of the ledger. I see it as replacing Hatch with Hatch v2.0. Not as bad as Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski, but no great cause for celebration either.