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Utah State Auditor John Dougall says he may challenge Mitt Romney for the Utah GOP Senate nomination this year.

Romney will officially launch his bid on Thursday to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Orrin Hatch this year. Romney is widely expected to waltz to the nomination and a victory in November.

However, Dougall tells David Catanese of U.S. News and World Report that he's considering running against Romney to have a "conversation rather than a coronation."

If he pulls the trigger, the 51-year-old Dougall will position himself as a strong conservative supportive of President Donald Trump's agenda.

 

"One of the things I hear on the Lincoln Day circuit is, it doesn't look like Mr. Romney likes the president very much," Dougall says. "And as I travel the state, most are supportive of the president's agenda."

 

"It's clear that voters need to know where their next U.S. senator is going to be when it comes to working with the president," he adds.

 

Dougall hasn't yet commissioned polling of the race, but an outside group is testing his viability. He says he is still working on a potential timeline for an announcement.

 

In a Facebook post last month, Dougall wrote that Romney would be Utah's next senator, "not necessarily because of his vision for the future or his hard work, but because the press and the UT Republican Party will help ensure his coronation."

 

But he now says, "I think he's beatable."

It would be a "free race" for Dougall because he would not have to step down from his current position as state auditor to run.