Mitt Romney fails to win Republican nomination for Utah Senate election

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has failed to secure the GOP nomination for the vacant Senate seat in Utah.

Romney had been the odds-on favourite to win the heavily Mormon state. He even secured an endorsement from his former foe President Donald Trump after announcing the Senate bid.

But when delegates gathered to cast their votes, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee was unable to win the 60 percent of votes that he needed to head to the November ballot unopposed.

Once none of the 12 candidates were able to cross the threshold, the party continued with successive rounds of caucus voting until one candidate reached 40 percent.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is interviewed at the Silicon Slopes Tech Conference on January 19, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. There is a push for Romney to run for the Utah Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Orrin Hatch this year. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney (Getty)

After the second round of voting, Utah state representative Mike Kennedy emerged in the lead with 50.88 percent. Romney came in a close second with 49.12 percent.

Romney – who is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage –  has fallen a long way from when people thought he could defeat Barack Obama to become president.

The result means Romney and Kennedy will now face a state-wide primary to decide who runs for election in November as the Republican Senate candidate.

The two men have less than 60 days of campaigning before the vote on June 26.

Romney was criticised by some in the selection race for being too pro-gay rights, citing support for same-sex couples adopting.

Utah has elected a Republican at every election since 1977, so if he does secure the nomination – for which he remains the favourite – then he is expected to win the Senate seat.

After the vote, Romney said he was looking forward to a primary race.

“This is terrific for the people of Utah, and I really want to thank the delegates who stayed so late to give me the kind of boost that I got here today,” Romney said.