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Utah Poll Suggests Orrin Hatch Might Be Vulnerable to Tea Party-Type Challenge

4 years ago
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Like Indiana's Richard Lugar, Sen. Orrin Hatch has been mentioned among long-serving Republicans who may meet the fate of Hatch's former Utah colleague Robert Bennett. Bennett lost his seat when conservative and tea party movement activists denied him the GOP nomination in 2008.

The 76-year-old Hatch, who will be seeking his sixth term next year, has shown he's mindful of the threat by going out of his way lately to court those activists, inviting himself to a Tea Party Express townhall meeting last week.

Some on the right consider Hatch too much of a centrist, and like Bennett, he has been widely criticized by many conservatives for supporting the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the bailout of financial institutions approved by Congress in 2008 when the subprime mortgage crisis was leading to an economic meltdown. Hatch got heckled at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week for his vote on TARP.

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz has talked about taking on Hatch in a GOP primary, and a Deseret News-KSL poll shows that while Hatch runs ahead of Chaffetz, it is not by a margin that most established incumbents would feel comfortable with, especially given that Chaffetz has not yet announced a challenge.

Hatch leads him by 51 percent to 35 percent among respondents who identified themselves as Republicans in the survey conducted Feb. 8-10. The Deseret News didn't give complete figures, but the remainder were presumably undecided. Republicans who described themselves as "very conservative" favored Chaffetz by 51 percent to 35 percent. The margin of error is 4.4 points.

When the poll included all Utahans, regardless of party affiliation, Hatch led 44 percent to 34 percent.

Chaffetz told the Deseret News, "Not bad for a rookie. . . . I was 9 years old when he took office."

As to whether he will run against Hatch, Chaffetz said only that a Senate bid is "a definite maybe" and he will make a decision by fall.

"The concern Hatch's people have had all along is somebody like a Rep. Chaffetz would be a big risk to them because he would be seen as a newer face," University of Utah political scientist Matthew Burbank told The News.

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Senator Hatch, 30+ years is enough. You have been tainted by The Beltway and your go-along-to-get-along attitude doesn't cut it anymore. We need people that aren't beholden to anyone and if you are in Congress as long as 30 years there is proably someone's back that you will have to scratch as they have yours. The hard problems are still to be addressed as far as dealing with entitlements. Unfortunately it won't be without the predictable demagoguery that will come from the advocates of Big Government.

February 21 2011 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And I also think it is time for the GOP to get smarter on Social Security. Unfortunately, it has become the stuff of sound bytes to talk about curbing the Social Security "entitlements" but there is only one problem with this: Social Security is not welfare and retirees are paid based on what taxes they have paid into the system from decades of working. We do not have the option to not pay SS taxes but instead invest that money into a tax deferred fund.

To hear people like Marco Rubio talk about cutting off anyone under 50 and other dopey ideas like that shows why some people do not trust our party. Means testing? So that means someone that worked over 50 years and paid taxes in the system for that long should have their benefits reduced because they were better savers and investors? That is an anti-capitalistic philosophy that is inconsistent with the GOP platform.

February 17 2011 at 10:12 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I am a registered Republican but to be consistent with my term limits philosophy, I think it is time for folks like Hatch to do something else. After so many years in DC, I am not buying that anyone can be a positive change agent or be someone that acts first and foremost in America's interests.

The pandering,flip-flopping and doing anything to hold on to the office shenanigans that we saw from people like Rangel, Liebermann,McCain and Specter are the most prominent examples of why we need term limits now.

February 17 2011 at 9:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to iluvbeer's comment

Agree with this too!!!

February 17 2011 at 5:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The GOP had better wake up before it's too late and they become the 3rd party. It's not all that difficult to determine what conservatives expect from their elected officials. Just go back a few years and review everything Ronald Reagan believed. Conservatism is not just for the republicans, it's for all Americans who are sick and tired of being led by career politicians who have re-election as their goal instead of doing what is right and proper for America. I can not understand how these RINOS don't see the writing on the wall. The GOP is down considerably in their fund raising and will suffer greatly in 2012 as they so rightly deserve. These long time congressmen and senators abdicated their right to represent conservatives when they had all the power ubder Bush 2 and spent and wasted our tax money. The GOP does not and has not known what to do with power once they got it and have shown that they have not earned they right to continue in office.

February 16 2011 at 6:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Hatch is one of my Senators and watching him over the years I feel that if within the next few months these polls start to tighten up that Hatch will retire, he will go out on top. Like him or not he is a class guy and he is smart enough to know when to bow out graciously...........

February 15 2011 at 11:33 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

I live in Utah and have sent letters and e-mails to Sen. Hatch.I never received an answer or reply to any of them. So if he is too busy I am too. Works both ways.

February 15 2011 at 11:12 PM Report abuse +18 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to CRYSTAL's comment

I live in Utah too, Crystal. The only time he's answered me in the past was with a short form letter saying absolutely nothing! I wrote him a long letter just a week or so ago listing all the things the government should cut before they cut our bought and paid for Social Security and Medicare. He addressed only 2 of my issues in a 3 page letter to me. I feel he only wrote that, if he even did write it, was because he knows darn well he's in trouble in the next election. Personally I hope Chaffetz does run against him. I'd vote for Chaffetz.

February 17 2011 at 5:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Hatch should retire at 76 years old.No wonder their are no jobs in this country.Congress should have a mandatory retirement age of 70. Give someone else a chance to do the job.

February 15 2011 at 11:07 PM Report abuse +13 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to MZymr's comment

The all should have a 2 term limit. They should not have their own exclusive cushy health care options, and they should not have a pension after only one term. They should pay into Social Security and Medicare like the rest of us have to!!

February 17 2011 at 5:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Remember, Sen. Hatch sided with big government and against the people on several issues. When Dem and GOP sat together at the SOTU speech it was to show the citizens that congress is united against them.

February 15 2011 at 10:41 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
rotten rollin

Hatch's people are concerned with newer faces? Then they recognize the danger to them is the recognition that we have a big problem in America: Chronic Politicians.

Term limits is the answer, not 6 terms.

February 15 2011 at 10:40 PM Report abuse +22 rate up rate down Reply

Rep. Chaffetz is the new face of politics.. Right now those new faces seem to be appearing on the Republican side of the asile but as we move towards the next election and with all the Democrat retirements I believe you will see new faces standing with the Dems also.. The big question will be on the Dems side will it be just one new Liberal trying to replace an old Liberal or will the new Dem party move more moderate or conservitive. In Utah by the time of the next election Chaffetz will gain a lot of support.........

February 15 2011 at 10:34 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

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