- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch raised about $1.3 million in campaign donations the first three months of this year as he prepares for a possible re-election run next year, according to fundraising numbers provided by Hatch’s office on Wednesday.

The long-serving Senate Republican pledged in 2012 that his current term would be his last but did an about face late last year and said he was considering running again.

The amount Hatch raised from January through March is more than he collected in all of 2016. The senator ended March with $3.5 million overall in his campaign account.

His full fundraising report for the first quarter of 2017 that provides details about donors and his spending was not ready to be released, Hatch’s office said. It does not have to be filed with the Federal Election Commission until April 15.

Hatch said in a statement that he is preparing for a re-election campaign but has not made a final decision on whether to seek an eighth term.

“I have never taken any election for granted, and I would relish the opportunity to put my record before the voters,” Hatch said. “While I have taken steps to run, I have yet to make a final decision. I remain focused on my work in the Senate and will make any political decisions in due course.”

Hatch, who is 83, has said he might not run again if former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who now lives in Utah, would consider running.

Romney’s representatives did not responded to messages Wednesday seeking comment about whether he is interested in running.

Hatch has been in office for 40 years and serves as the chair of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate president pro tem, making him third in line to succeed the president.

His spent more than $10 million to win his last re-election in 2012, a record for a Utah race.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was considering a run for Hatch’s seat, has accepted a post in the Trump administration as the U.S. ambassador to Russia.

Huntsman told The Salt Lake Tribune that has not ruled out a run for Hatch’s seat.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Evan McMullin, a former CIA agent who mounted an independent run for president last year, have also been mentioned as potential candidates in the race. Both have said they are not ruling out the idea.

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This story has been corrected to show Hatch said he is preparing for a re-election campaign but has not made a final decision. An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Hatch is not preparing for a campaign.

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