“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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"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter."
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