Mitt Romney heads to the U.S. Senate for Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has handily won a U.S. Senate seat in his adopted home state of Utah after a campaign where he backed off his once-fierce criticism of Donald Trump.

Romney clinched the win Tuesday as he defeated Democrat Jenny Wilson, a member of the Salt Lake County council.

Romney was the heavy favorite to win the seat in conservative Utah, where he holds near-celebrity status as the first Mormon presidential nominee from a major party.

He replaces longtime Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who chose not to seek re-election.

Romney denounced Trump as a “fraud” and a “phony” during the 2016 campaign, but has since said he approves of many Trump policies.