UTAH | UT-sen

Hatch Could Run Again

Republicans suspect he will break a pledge to make this his final term.

Andrea Drusch
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Andrea Drusch
April 1, 2016, 11:11 a.m.

“Facing his most com­pet­it­ive reelec­tion in years, Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Or­rin Hatch (R) pledged in 2012 that this would be his fi­nal term. But as 2018 nears, Utah Re­pub­lic­ans and politicos are bet­ting that he will make an­oth­er run. A little more than a year in­to his gig as pres­id­ent pro tem­pore of the Sen­ate—a job that comes with a se­cur­ity de­tail and leaves him third in line to the pres­id­ency—ob­serv­ers and former staffers said they see no sign of the 82-year-old slow­ing down, es­pe­cially if Re­pub­lic­ans hang onto the Sen­ate.”

“Hatch stoked spec­u­la­tion that he could seek reelec­tion in a 2014 ra­dio in­ter­view, when the sev­en-term sen­at­or sug­ges­ted that he might stick around if the Sen­ate was in the middle of tax re­form. … Tax re­form could drag out to 2018, but some state Re­pub­lic­ans sug­gest the fu­ture of the Su­preme Court ig­nites a more com­pel­ling case for an­oth­er Hatch term.”

“If he does run, Hatch should prob­ably ex­pect an­oth­er con­ten­tious race. … State Re­pub­lic­ans have thrown around names of po­ten­tial chal­lengers, in­clud­ing former state Sen. Dan Liljen­quist (R), who lost to Hatch in 2012, Mitt Rom­ney’s son Josh, and state Sen. Deidre Hende­r­son (R). … Liljen­quist said he’s con­sid­er­ing an­oth­er run but won’t make a de­cision for at least a year.”

“A change in Utah’s primary-elec­tion laws could be­ne­fit Hatch. The state le­gis­lature passed a bill in 2014 that al­lows can­did­ates to by­pass the party con­ven­tion and se­cure a spot on the primary bal­lot by gath­er­ing sig­na­tures. This could act as a safety net for the sen­at­or if op­pon­ents try to shut him out at the con­ven­tion, as two tea-party-backed can­did­ates did to former Sen. Bob Ben­nett in 2010. The state GOP is chal­len­ging the law in court.”

“If Hatch sticks by his 2012 de­clar­a­tion that this is his fi­nal term, the race to re­place him will have no short­age of pos­sible can­did­ates. Of Utah’s four-mem­ber House del­eg­a­tion, many state Re­pub­lic­ans think Rep. Chris Stew­art (R) is the most likely con­tender for an open seat. … Spokes­men for Reps. Rob Bish­op and Mia Love both said they do not in­tend to run for Sen­ate in 2018.”

“Rep. Jason Chaf­fetz said in an in­ter­view that ‘it’s doubt­ful’ he would give up his spot as chair­man of the Over­sight com­mit­tee to be­come a fresh­man sen­at­or, adding that he finds the 2020 gov­ernor­ship race more ap­peal­ing.”  (Hotline reporting)

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