Flashing his trademark smile and touting a patched-up relationship with the president, Mitt Romney rolled through the Republican primary in his adopted Utah on Tuesday and took another step in his political comeback that would have him assume the Senate seat of retiring Orrin Hatch.
President Donald Trump congratulated Romney on the landslide victory, tweeting that "a great and loving family will be coming to D.C."
Romney celebrated the win at sunset in front of picturesque mountains, surrounded by his wife, Ann, and some of their children and grandchildren as supporters munched hot dogs and snow cones.
The former presidential candidate promised to "make sure that the example I set as a leader is consistent with the values of our state and the great founding values of the United States of America" in Washington.
Romney has said he'll speak out if the president says or does anything "significant" that is racist, sexist or anti-immigrant. But his tone has changed markedly since the 2016 presidential campaign when he blasted Trump as a "phony" and a "fraud."
This year, Romney predicted Trump will be re-elected and accepted the president's endorsement in the Senate race.
Romney defeated GOP state lawmaker Mike Kennedy, who had forced him into a primary by winning the vote of a hard right-leaning group of core GOP party members at the state convention in April. Neither received 60 percent of delegates' votes to secure the nomination outright.
During the campaign, Kennedy tried to paint his political-heavyweight opponent as an out-of-towner who couldn't get along with Trump, but those attacks didn't make much headway.
Kennedy said Tuesday he's happy to back Romney as he goes up against Democrat Jenny Wilson in the general election.
Wilson promised a hard race Tuesday, saying in a statement that the country needs "a new generation of leaders" and criticizing him on immigration and tax policies.
Wilson will be the underdog in deep-red Utah, which has not sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate for decades.
Other results from Tuesday's election from the Associated Press:
U.S. Senate GOP - Primary
- Mitt Romney 217,049 - 72 percent
- Mike Kennedy 85,622 - 28 percent
U.S. House District 1 Panhandle and NE corner Dem - Primary
- Lee Castillo 6,485 - 57 percent
- Kurt Weiland 4,988 - 43 percent
U.S. House District 3 East/Central, Provo GOP - Primary
- John Curtis (i) 56,817 - 74 percent
- Christopher Herrod 19,600 - 26 percent
State Board of Education District 9 Oth - Primary (2 to be nominated)
- Cindy Davis 10,161 - 52 percent
- Joylin Lincoln 3,133 - 16 percent
- Avalie Muhlestein 3,114 - 16 percent
- Kami Alvarez 2,949 - 15 percent
State Senate District 2 Dem - Primary
- Derek Kitchen 4,996 - 53 percent
- Jennifer Plumb 4,485 - 47 percent
State Senate District 3 GOP - Primary
- Jeremy Egan 2,331 - 58 percent
- Marlin Baer 1,655 - 42 percent
State Senate District 8 GOP - Special Primary
- Brian Zehnder (i) 5,637 - 62 percent
- Jaren Davis 3,501 - 38 percent
State Senate District 17 GOP - Primary
- Scott Sandall 6,660 - 53 percent
- Clark Davis 5,950 - 47 percent
State Senate District 26 Dem - Primary
- Eileen Gallagher 1,278 - 62 percent
- Pat Vaughn 783 - 38 percent
State Senate District 26 GOP - Primary
- Ronald Winterton 6,678 - 43 percent
- Brian Gorum 5,211 - 34 percent
- Jack Rubin 3,510 - 23 percent