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Washington • Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Wednesday that he hopes Mitt Romney launches a bid for the Senate now that Orrin Hatch is bowing out.

Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said he is sad to lose Hatch in the Senate but he would encourage Romney to run.

I think he’d be a terrific addition,” Cornyn told The Salt Lake Tribune off the Senate floor Wednesday.

Romney is considering a bid for Hatch’s seat now that the senator has announced that he’s not going to seek re-election to an eighth term. Those close to Romney say he hasn’t made a decision yet but would do so in the coming weeks.

The filing deadline for the Senate seat is March 15, though Romney’s friends don’t expect him to wait too long before jumping in – or declining to run. Candidates intending to collect signatures to get on the ballot already are beginning to declare in Utah.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday,July 29, 2015, to discuss Planned Parenthood.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 leader who formerly ran the National Republican Senate Committee, said he laments Hatch’s departure after 41 years in the chamber.

I hate to lose Senator Hatch. He’s everybody’s favorite around here,” Cornyn said. “I consider him a mentor of mine, someone I have enormous respect for. But we all have to go sometime, one way or another.”

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