While Hatch considers 8th term, others consider running for his seat

Sen. Orrin Hatch, date and location unspecified | Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – While the 2018 election season may not be on the minds of many, a handful of individuals have already expressed an interest in running for the Senate seat long held by Sen. Orrin Hatch. The 83-year-old senator has said he may likely run again, though his office has clarified that he hasn’t made a solid decision just yet.

Though Hatch said he wouldn’t run again during his 2012 campaign, things have changed, he said in November, following Donald Trump’s winning the 2016 presidential election.

At the time, he told the magazine Roll Call that people had been asking him to consider running again. Trump has reportedly encouraged Hatch to consider running for reelection as well.

It goes without saying that if he runs, Sen. Hatch will mount a formidable campaign,” said Henrie Walton, Dixie State University’s community, state and federal relations officer.

“He has a large war chest, and his team has laid all the groundwork for another run,” Walton said. “But all the chatter surrounding several potential opponents suggests that Republicans aren’t going to rubber stamp his name on their 2018 ballot.”

According to a survey conducted by The Salt Lake Tribune and Hinckley Institute of Politics in January, a majority of Utahns may not be so eager to see Hatch run for an eighth term.

An estimated 78 percent were not in favor of Hatch running again, with 58 percent in the “definitely not” category.

“If the 2016 presidential election taught us anything, it’s that people are frustrated with the status quo,” Walton said. “To some, Sen. Hatch represents a broken system. To others, he’s the experienced statesman that we need to fix it.”

Hatch is the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, having been originally elected in 1977. He currently serves as the Senate’s president pro tempore, chair of the Senate Finance Committee and senior member of the Judiciary Committee.

Among the names in the Utah GOP who have expressed an interest in running for Hatch’s seat are former 2016 independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin, World Trade Center Utah CEO Derek Miller, Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Sutherland Institute President Boyd Matheson.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has also been a part of this group, though he recently accepted the role of U.S. ambassador to Russia.

From the GOP side, those that stuck out to Walton were McMullin and Miller as possibly “the most serious contenders.” They also have extensive experience in the private and public sectors, he said.

“McMullin will be looking to capitalize on the reputation and name recognition that he cultivated during 2016,” Walton said. “In his role as the CEO of World Trade Center Utah, Miller has developed strong relationships with many of Utah’s business leaders.”

While neither man is likely to be cowed by opponents, he said, the same is true for Hatch.

Miller expressed an interest in running for Hatch’s seat last year. McMullin has expressed an interest in running for either Hatch’s Senate seat or Chaffetz’s seat in the House of Representatives.

As for the Democrats, last week Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson announced her intent to explore running for Senate on the Democratic ticket in 2018, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Her father, former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson, ran against Hatch in 1982.

Jenny Wilson will likely cast herself as an anti-Washington insider who is willing to reach across party divides,” Walton said. “But even considering voter frustrations with the state of our politics, a Democrat is going to have a tough time winning a statewide seat in Utah.”

Hatch is no longer capable of bipartisan efforts, Wilson told The Salt Lake Tribune and said he has lost the ability to find common ground on issues.

“Unfortunately, the Orrin Hatch of late is one of the greatest offenders,” Wilson said. “It’s time for the return of respect and cooperation across party lines.”

As of Tuesday, Wilson is no longer the only Democrat looking at a possible run against Hatch.

According to Utah Policy, Scott Howell, who ran against Hatch in 2000 and again in 2012, is watching the situation carefully. Howell lost to Hatch by 34 percentage points in 2000 and by 35 percentage points in 2012.

“I would have a better understanding of the kind of campaign we would have to run to try and be successful,” Howell told Utah Policy on Tuesday. “I want new thought leadership in the Congress.”

Howell also said Hatch’s being in office so long has likely caused a sense of fatigue among voters who are now looking for a change.

We’re not electing a general authority, but we are electing a public servant,” Howell told Utah Policy. “I want to give kudos to Hatch for the good job he’s done, but now is the time to enjoy his family.”

Whether or not certain individuals ultimately choose to run for Hatch’s seat may be dependent on whether or not he finally makes a solid commitment to run for an eighth term.

Should Hatch run again, it remains to be seen if he will be forced into a primary as he was during the 2012 election season. It was reportedly the first primary he had faced after decades in office.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!


  • voice of reason April 5, 2017 at 9:54 am

    That seat does not belong to Orrin Hatch. It belongs to the people of Utah and Orrin needs to take a long walk off a short pier.

  • Real Life April 5, 2017 at 10:59 am

    8th term? Hell, why stop there? Even after he’s dead, just prop him up with a stick. Mormons will still vote for him.

  • Proud Rebel April 5, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Just another politician going back on his word, and changing his mind to whichever way the wind blows!

  • comments April 5, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Anyone here remember the show Tales From the Crypt? It was an awesome show back in the day. Guess who reminds me of the crypt keeper? 😉

  • Brian April 5, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Politicians are like diapers: they both need to be changed frequently, and for the same reason.

    When Hatch originally ran it was on one main point: term limits.

    Go spend time with your grandkids, you stale hypocrite. Maybe you and Reid can go on some cruises together and talk about old times (really, really old times).

  • DB April 5, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Mr Hatch, are you determined to die in office? Are you going to keep running for reelection until you lose one? That may happen the next time around. Trust me, retirement really IS all it’s cracked up to be.

  • Not_So_Much April 5, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Thank you for your service Senator. I will have to agree with the other comments and enough is more than enough. I will vote for ANYONE else because you see going to Washington DC isn’t supposed to be a career.

  • Henry April 5, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Let’s recycle some of our previous candidates from Utah. The Democrat nominee can be the nation’s first transexual senatorial candidate, Misty Snow. The Republican nominee can be “the 40 year old virgin”, Evan McMullin. Would guarantee a more entertaining race and greater national coverage.

  • deseret dave April 5, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Orin Hatch has served the state of utah for a long time..Lets have someelse have a shot at it.Orin hatches original song was that (i believe it was Frank Moss) had been in the senate long enough..So we elected him…But now 7 terms is enough…We new blood and new ideas..The old programs and ideals are being changed..It will be very difficult for Trump to sell the 2 term limit program…But we need to get behind trump and demand change..Those politicos that oppose this move will find themselves VOTED OUT of office DESERET DAVE

  • dodgers April 6, 2017 at 5:15 am

    “To others, he’s the experienced statesman that we need to fix it?” Are you kidding me? He’s already been in office over 40 years and has had a lifetime to fix the problems. Wake up, open your eyes Hatch supporters, he is a big part of what needs to be fixed. Time for change and substance, time to drain the swamp.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.