Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney texted a friend that he will seek the open Senate seat from Utah this year, according to a New York Times report published Sunday.
The Times' report adds to the growing expectation that Romney will declare his intention to seek the Republican nomination to replace outgoing Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who earlier this year made it official that he will not seek re-election.
Romney is scheduled for two public events in Utah during the coming week -- one before the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce and the other at a technology conference.
The deadline for Romney to get into the race officially is not until March, and it is unclear when he might declare.
The report said Utah GOP Gov. Gary Herbert told Kem Gardner, a friend of Romney, that the former Republican presidential candidate should not be "coy" about seeking the Senate seat. Gardner later called Herbert and read a text from Romney saying, "I'm running."
President Donald Trump, whose candidacy Romney criticized during the 2016 campaign, has spoken with Romney by phone recently, and political observers have pointed to the possibility that Romney could be an outspoken critic of Trump's conduct from the Senate.
In the wake of Trump's victory, Romney dined with Trump, and afterward, he praised Trump for winning the presidency as speculation mounted that Trump might choose Romney for secretary of state.