The political spotlight is shifting to longtime Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) as he considers whether to run for reelection in 2018.
Hatch’s office has repeatedly said he’ll make a decision by the end of the year, but he still has several months to make up his mind before the March 15 filing deadline.
President Trump and some of his allies are urging Hatch to run for an eighth term. They have showered praise on the powerful Senate Finance Committee chairman for helping to shepherd the GOP’s tax overhaul through the upper chamber.
While Hatch had promised that this term would be his last, in recent weeks he has signaled a reelection run is likely.
“I’m planning on running again because I still have the chairmanship of the Finance Committee and they’ll never be another Utahn that’s chairman of the committee, at least not for 40 or 50 years,” he told The Wall Street Journal in November.
But Hatch, the longest-serving GOP senator in U.S. history, is under pressure to call it quits from within his home state.
The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s largest newspaper, published a scathing editorial on Christmas Day calling on Hatch, 83, to retire. If he runs, the paper’s editorial board wrote, voters should throw their support behind someone new.
The editorial mockingly named him “Utahn of the Year,” citing Hatch’s major role in the passage of tax reform as well as the White House’s decision to shrink two national monuments in Utah. The board wrote that Hatch has an “utter lack of integrity” that comes from “his unquenchable thirst for power.”
“It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career. If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him,” the editorial board wrote.
Utahns do appear eager for a fresh face in the Senate, as a poll from August found that more than three-quarters of voters want Hatch to retire.