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Mitt Romney comes in second place at Utah GOP convention, forced into primary

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney smiles as he declares his candidacy for the U.S. Senate at the state elections office Thursday, March 15, 2018, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City.

Rick Bowmer / AP

Mitt Romney said he is looking forward to a primary campaign after failing to win the nomination for the U.S. Senate seat in Utah at the state GOP convention. Romney won 49 percent of the delegate vote, but he was edged by Mike Kennedy, a Utah state representative who is also a medical doctor, attorney, and a leader of the new Utah School Safety Commission, which took form after the Florida school shooting, CBS Salt Lake City affiliate KUTV reports.

Romney said Saturday he expects to do well in the primary and the general election after coming in a close second to state lawmaker Mike Kennedy at the convention in suburban Salt Lake City. 

The former presidential nominee appeared upbeat after it was announced that he was edged out by state lawmaker Mike Kennedy, who got 51 percent of the vote to Romney's 49 percent.

Romney suggested that he'll focus his campaign on his experience in government, business and with the 2002 Olympics in Utah. Romney, who was one of the most outspoken critics of President Trump during the 2016 campaign, said he hasn't decided whether to support Mr. Trump for re-election. Mr. Trump has thrown his support behind Romney

The primary election will June 26, with ballots mailed to voters three weeks before election day. Early voting will begin on June 12.  

Longtime Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch announced earlier this year he wouldn't be seeking re-election.