Chaffetz won’t challenge Hatch in Utah?

posted at 2:05 pm on August 22, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Bad news for Tea Party activists and FreedomWorks came out of Utah this morning.  Their best hope for pushing Orrin Hatch into retirement will announce later today that he won’t challenge the incumbent Republican at the state caucus.  Rep. Jason Chaffetz had been considered the best candidate for a primary fight:

After weighing his options for months, Rep. Jason Chaffetz is expected to announce today that he will not challenge Orrin Hatch for his U.S. Senate seat next year, sources told The Tribune today.

Chaffetz has scheduled a press conference this afternoon to announce his plans, which could set off a chain reaction among potential congressional candidates already positioning to run for his 3rd District seat.

But sources aware of the decision, speaking on condition of anonymity, say he will not challenge Hatch. Chaffetz did not respond to phone messages or texts this morning.

That will break hearts in the Tea Party movement.  FreedomWorks had started a grassroots effort to get Hatch out of the Senate, emboldened by the success of Mike Lee’s challenge to Bob Bennett in 2010.  Hatch had responded with an all-stops-pulled PR campaign selling himself as a Tea Party-style conservative and a friendly voice to grassroots activists in the upper chamber.  The effort split conservative activists like Sarah Palin and our own Boss Emeritus.

Without Chaffetz, however, the anti-Hatch forces may be left without a natural challenger.  Chaffetz had built a solid reputation in the House for conservative policy development, and he’s popular in Utah and could have created a serious problem for Hatch.  The Salt Lake Tribune reports that this may also have been the problem in convincing Chaffetz to aim for the Senate.  His growing influence in the House would disappear behind Senators like Lee and Marco Rubio, who got there first and have more seniority in the caucus.

For the moment, then, it appears that Hatch is safe, if not exactly secure.  That could change if activists find someone with enough standing to challenge the incumbent — or perhaps with just enough ambition to do so.  Lee did well without having a House seat as a platform for his challenge to Bennett in 2010.

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For the moment, then, it appears that Hatch is safe, if not exactly secure.

Find someone else. Hatch can be beaten!

honsy on August 22, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Hatch is safe and secure. We can be secure in the knowledge that he will disappoint us.

tgillian on August 22, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Michelle Malkin’s heart broken…

Actually mine too…

Schadenfreude on August 22, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Palin was right? Palin was right?

faraway on August 22, 2011 at 2:10 PM

dang it…

another gop elite is saved :(

cmsinaz on August 22, 2011 at 2:11 PM

The snake oil salesman wins, again.

He lied his way into the Tea Party. Expect him to continue to do so, until the day after his re-election.

He is no different than McCain.

There is big shame in keeping the incontinent in the brain and pants congresscritter in DC after max. two terms.

Schadenfreude on August 22, 2011 at 2:11 PM

I wonder what Hatch said to get Chaffetz to stop? No doubt Hatch knows he is threatened. Maybe he’ll fly right now.

DanMan on August 22, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Maybe Palin actually knew Chaffetz wouldn’t run.

It’s her fault anyway.

portlandon on August 22, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Palin was right? Palin was right?

faraway on August 22, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Hmmmmm, happens regularly.

the_nile on August 22, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Darn.

I wonder what Hatch said to get Chaffetz to stop?

My money would be that when he refused to endorse Huntsman, he caught a lot of flak from that family, which is extremely powerful here in Utah (because of the dad). Why in god’s green earth he did that is beyond me. It was too early to endorse anyone.

I have not heard a peep about anyone else challenging Hatch. We’re screwed.

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Palin wins again…

idesign on August 22, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Michelle Malkin’s heart broken…

Actually mine too…

Schadenfreude on August 22, 2011 at 2:09 PM

McCain still isn’t president…. So there’s always that. It still isn’t over, perhaps there’s some other way of securing a similar outcome in Utah? Directly support the democrat for instance.

Boxy_Brown on August 22, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Romney to make an announcement on this in a few weeks

faraway on August 22, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Palin must’ve been in the know.

steebo77 on August 22, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Primary the Kennedy Lib lover.

PappyD61 on August 22, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Is it possible Hatch had an epiphany?

BKeyser on August 22, 2011 at 2:22 PM

OT: Dear Leader’s statement on Libya…I got him!

d1carter on August 22, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Directly support the democrat for instance.

Boxy_Brown on August 22, 2011 at 2:16 PM

I’d rather shoot myself.

Schadenfreude on August 22, 2011 at 2:25 PM

OT: Dear Leader’s statement on Libya…I got him!

d1carter on August 22, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Vomit…

Seven Percent Solution on August 22, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Directly support the democrat for instance.

Boxy_Brown on August 22, 2011 at 2:16 PM

I’d rather shoot myself.

Schadenfreude on August 22, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Ditto.

It would be beyond insane to support any Democrat against Hatch in Utah.

When Chaffetz was mulling a run, the rumor was that Matheson (D congresscritter who pretends to be a conservative democrat) would jump in to oppose Chaffetz (assuming Jason was successful in knocking off Orrin). But I assume that is off the table now.

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Any Utahns here?

Our Lieutenant Governor seemed pretty good when I saw him speak this winter. Would he be a possible candidate?

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 2:29 PM

OT: Dear Leader’s statement on Libya…I got him!

d1carter on August 22, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Would Bush personally announce this? Of course not.

Obama is creepy.

faraway on August 22, 2011 at 2:29 PM

I’d rather shoot myself.

Schadenfreude on August 22, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Fair enough. And yeah, the primaries are the place to sort these things out I have to admit.

Boxy_Brown on August 22, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Rather than spending a lot of money and causing major disruptions on the right, would it not be better to work and spend money to defeat Democrats in 2012?
Just wondering where the money and energy would be better spent.
I would assume that keeping control of Congress, winning the Senate and taking over the White House is better than warring with a so-called less than complete Conservative like Hatch.

I think we should win the war before the war crimes trials begin.

PhilipJames on August 22, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Obama: “Bush is responsible. He started the democratization process with Iraq. Bush freed Egypt, and now Libya.”

faraway on August 22, 2011 at 2:33 PM

To my mind, Hatch always represented the “cooler heads prevail” wing of the republican party. We may not always agree with his position on various matters, but he is more often than not on the right side of issues and someone I’d think we’d want on our side.

Funny thing though about Senators who age in office, they all seem to go a little soft. Perhaps they tire of the fight over time which is all the more reason why they should retire rather then be forced out by proponents of the “purity test”. Sometimes these efforts backfire and end up creating an opening for the other side.

I wish we could implement term limits for Congress: 2 terms (12 years) for Senate and 4 terms (8 years) for the House.

glennbo on August 22, 2011 at 2:33 PM

OT: Dear Leader’s statement on Libya…I got him!

d1carter on August 22, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Vomit…

Seven Percent Solution on August 22, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Maybe I should have used a sarc tag on that…

d1carter on August 22, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Hatch is as good as Mike Castle? Right?

faraway on August 22, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Considering who has been indorsing Sen. Hatch I have to assume that this was known and that some vote promises were given. No more flirting with the Maine girls.

Cindy Munford on August 22, 2011 at 2:36 PM

faraway on August 22, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Oh, you’re good.

Cindy Munford on August 22, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Palin wins again…

idesign on August 22, 2011 at 2:16 PM

How so?

The only reason Orrin has tacked right is that he thought he had a viable primary challenger in Chaffetz and he didn’t want to go the way of Bennett. It’s not good for us that Chaffetz is not running, nor is it good for us for Orrin to feel emboldened by getting pats on the head from conservative pundits for the truly minimal work he’s done to repair the damage of his squishiness in the Senate.

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 2:38 PM

Hatch was really bolstered by those endorsements from some conservative leaders, which was unfair to Chaffetz.

youngTXcon on August 22, 2011 at 2:39 PM

I wish we could implement term limits for Congress: 2 terms (12 years) for Senate and 4 terms (8 years) for the House.

Twelve years total: House plus Senate. Someone can do three terms in the House, then a term in the Senate — then out.

I read a great suggestion somewhere: eliminate Congressional pensions. Service in Congress should be just that, service, not a career.

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 2:38 PM

Chaffetz supports Romney for President.

That’s all I need to know…

idesign on August 22, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Chaffetz supports Romney for President.

That’s all I need to know…

idesign on August 22, 2011 at 2:41 PM

That was a bizarre move by him and quite inconsistent with what I’ve seen of his voting record, including his recent rejection of the debt ceiling.

Chaffetz is to the right of Orrin.

BTW, whom do you think Orrin will endorse? I’d bet a million dollars it will be Romney. That’s the default position here in Utah.

I believe the reason Chaffetz endorsed Romney is because he was getting pressured by his old boss (Huntsman) to endorse him and he was not going to do that. I also think that that decision (to not endorse Huntsman) damaged him with the money folks here in Utah. The Huntsman family is very powerful and they most definitely throw their elbows out.

My guess is that his stated reason for not running for Senate will be family. I saw him speak last year and he was clearly very torn up about missing time away from his wife and kids. He just came off of a family vacation, so that really may be a big factor.

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 2:48 PM

FreedomWorks had … started a grassroots effort …. to get Hatch out of the Senate, emboldened by the success of Mike Lee’s challenge to Bob Bennett in 2010.

LOL

FreedomWorks is going to be the death knell to the TEA Party and provides all the ammo the left needs.

Texas Gal on August 22, 2011 at 2:48 PM

I am new to Utah, and I have been asking around to find out why Hatch keeps getting elected. My neighbors tell me that while they don’t like some of what he does, he is great at protecting land in Utah from the Feds. Seems like the Gubmint is trying to buy up tons of land in Utah-parks and such. Orrin apparently gets it that Utahns want their land free from federal control.

That being said, I wish Chaffetz would run, he seems to always be on the right side of every vote.

Kristamatic on August 22, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Hatch endorsed Romney (formally) on July 6th of this year, btw. I found it at http://www.p2012.org/

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Chaffetz supports Romney for President.

That’s all I need to know…

idesign on August 22, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Everybody I know in Utah supports Romney. It may just be a Utah thing- identity voting.

Kristamatic on August 22, 2011 at 2:51 PM

I am new to Utah, and I have been asking around to find out why Hatch keeps getting elected. My neighbors tell me that while they don’t like some of what he does, he is great at protecting land in Utah from the Feds.

People seem to genuinely like him. I’ve met him and he is a kindly old man. He hugs everyone. My husband has been hugged by him on several occasions.

But as for the protecting Utahns from the federal land grab, I’d like to see evidence of that. It seems to me Hatch has been in a long time and the Feds own a lot of Utah. The folks I’ve heard really pushing that issue are our governor (who is wonderful) and Mike Lee (who does not impress me despite his conservative creds).

When did you move to Utah? I came here a year ago.

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 2:53 PM

Not a big Orrin Hatch fan, he’s DC establishment writ large, but he’s more than conservative enough. If the Tea Party wants to primary someone, they should spend the money elsewhere, not on Hatch because it worked against RINO Bob Bennett…

phreshone on August 22, 2011 at 2:53 PM

Hatch endorsed Romney (formally) on July 6th of this year, btw. I found it at http://www.p2012.org/

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 2:49 PM

I didn’t find anything there. Do you have a direct link?

idesign on August 22, 2011 at 2:55 PM

We moved to Utah last year too- we just moved from Provo to Springville, which seems more conservative than Provo. Lots of

I’m curious as to why Mike Lee does not impress you?

Kristamatic on August 22, 2011 at 2:57 PM

We moved to Utah last year too- we just moved from Provo to Springville, which seems more conservative than Provo. Lots of

I’m curious as to why Mike Lee does not impress you?

FIFM, sorry.

Kristamatic on August 22, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Hatch was really bolstered by those endorsements from some conservative leaders, which was unfair to Chaffetz.

youngTXcon on August 22, 2011 at 2:39 PM

A lot of you really need to get a grip…the guy quit before the fight even started..we don’t need him…

CCRWM on August 22, 2011 at 3:05 PM

http://www.p2012.org/candidates/natendorse.html

A google search will also pick up a lot of references to it. He’d been signaling it for a long time (as early as February).

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Hatch is as good as Mike Castle? Right?

faraway on August 22, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Thumbs up.

Vince on August 22, 2011 at 3:15 PM

We moved to Utah last year too- we just moved from Provo to Springville, which seems more conservative than Provo.

We lived in Springville (near Hobble Creek Canyon) for a year before recently buying a house in Orem. It is more traditional, I guess I’d say. Lots of very established families who’ve lived in the Valley for generations. Provo (and Orem) benefit from being university towns. But Springville is beautiful and very green, especially in the canyon. Make sure to take advantage of the trail that runs to the golf course.

I saw Mike Lee speak at a Republican party function last year. He didn’t strike me as particularly bright, whatever his resume might say, and he seems like too much of an ideologue for my taste.

He told a story about meeting with the Secy of the Interior about the federal lands grab in Utah. The upshot of that story was that Mike was treated badly by the Secy and nothing was accomplished. I mean, I think Lee was trying to score points for fighting the good fight, but there were no positive results. His talk was much less well-received than Chaffetz’s or even our Lt. Gov’s speech, although certainly more popular than Hatch’s.

I’ve chatted with folks in the area (Republicans, mostly business leaders) and the consensus seems to be Lee got elected because of the tremendous respect for his dad and also because the TP wanted to take out Bennett.

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 3:22 PM

A lot of you really need to get a grip…the guy quit before the fight even started..we don’t need him…

CCRWM on August 22, 2011 at 3:05 PM

Do you live in Utah? You seem to have a really negative impression of Chaffetz and I’m curious on what you are basing it.

I don’t think Chaffetz backed away from a fight. My guess is his funding was drying up because of the Huntsmans and his wife and kids weren’t keen on him running.

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 3:25 PM

I’m in rural Utah, in Chaffetz’s district. Not sure what I think of this news; no one pays rural people any attention anyway. Not Chaffetz, not Hatch, Bennett, or any of the rest. I saw more stuff from Chaffetz than anyone, as in he’d stop by once a year in our county so we could do something, I guess. More than most others. So I guess I’m glad he’s staying as our rep: he certainly wouldn’t come visit as a Senator and I don’t think his replacement would care about us at all.

Vanceone on August 22, 2011 at 3:39 PM

We’re raising a generation of political cowards. I say, who is going to primary Chaffetz?

Mr. Grump on August 22, 2011 at 4:08 PM

Utahan here. Specifically 3rd CD (Chaffetz CD)resident and I am doing a BIG TIME happy dance. The country needsright where he is! There is a viable challenger in the state senate. I put upposts on all 3 contenders lays month if you want to learn more about Senator Dan Liljenjuist.

LL

Lady Logician on August 22, 2011 at 5:49 PM

And sorry Mr. Grump. Being politically SMART does not make one a coward.

LL

Lady Logician on August 22, 2011 at 5:50 PM

Fellow Beehive Staters, What do you think about the comments by Chamberlain and Nelson (UT GOP party officials)?

Link to the SLTrib.

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 6:37 PM

Without Chaffetz, however, the anti-Hatch forces may be left without a natural challenger. Chaffetz had built a solid reputation in the House for conservative policy development, and he’s popular in Utah and could have created a serious problem for Hatch. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that this may also have been the problem in convincing Chaffetz to aim for the Senate. His growing influence in the House would disappear behind Senators like Lee and Marco Rubio, who got there first and have more seniority in the caucus.

LL: Doesn’t sound like wisdom to me. Sounds like bruised ego.

Mr. Grump on August 22, 2011 at 8:04 PM

The reason I would still support both Hatch and Graham is judicial nominees. They’re both seasoned interrogators. And Graham, especially, is brilliant at it.

MaggiePoo on August 22, 2011 at 9:51 PM

Tim Bridgewater was the other primary candidate last year. He and Lee both had Tea Party support and Lee only beat him by 2 percentage points. He was a solid candidate with real conservative credentials. I think he could beat Hatch.

Since I have no party affiliation, I was not able to vote in the closed primary, but Brigewater vs. Lee would have been a really tough choice. If anyone worthy does step up to challenge, I’ve decided I’ll swallow the turd sandwich and register as an R so I can vote in the primary this time around.

Wingo on August 22, 2011 at 9:52 PM

Chaffetz’s explanation (from his FB page) below. To me I read “I didn’t think I’d win on my current resume” between the lines (even though he said he would win):

August 22, 2011

Fellow Republican,

I was elected to office to help change the way we do business in

Washington, DC. During my short two-and-a-half years in Congress

I’ve been instrumental in that fight, helping to bring about a

national conversation focused on how Congress is borrowing, taxing

and spending too much.

From the earmark ban and the Pledge to America, to the Fast and

Furious investigation and my recent Cut, Cap, and Balance

legislation, I’ve been a leader of government reform. In fact, after

my central role in writing, introducing and passing the Cut, Cap, and

Balance bill (I was the primary sponsor), it’s clear that I don’t

need to wait for seniority in order to be effective in the House.

During the last several months, I’ve been exploring a possible

challenge to Senator Orrin Hatch. Last week my family and I reached

a decision.

When I first ran for office, I argued that I wanted to do what’s

right for America and right for Utah. I still do. I have carefully

weighed my options, evaluated the pros and cons, and come to a

conclusion.

I plan to run again for office in the United States House of

Representatives. I’ll continue fighting for fiscal discipline,

limited government, accountability and a strong national defense.

That’s why I was elected. That’s what I’m doing. That’s where my

passion is.

Ultimately, I can spend the next 15 months doing my job, or I can

spend the next 15 months campaigning to do Senator Hatch’s.

Despite being tempted to compete for the privilege of serving in the

U.S. Senate–and being convinced I could win–I won’t allow a fight

for that seat to distract me from what I was sent to Washington to

do. I was sent here to help clean up the financial mess left by

decades of fiscal mismanagement. That is a battle that cannot wait.

It’s a battle that must be fought and won in the House and in the

Senate.

We live in a critical moment in history. President Obama’s policies

have twisted our problems into crises. We’ve got to get our country

back on the right course, and time isn’t on our side. I believe I’m

in a position to have influence solving our problems. I simply can’t

justify setting many of my legislative priorities on the back burner

in order to spend more time campaigning.

In order to continue to be the world’s economic and military

superpower, we must continue to fight for fiscal discipline, limited

government, accountability and a strong national defense.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as one of Utah’s Representatives.

It’s an honor and a privilege. My goal is to do what’s right for our

country, our state and our party. Let’s work together to elect good

Republicans in all four of Utah’s Congressional seats and defeat Jim

Matheson in whichever race he decides to run. Thank you for your

active participation in our government, as we strive together to be

part of the solution.

Faithfully,

Congressman Jason Chaffetz

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Everybody I know in Utah supports Romney. It may just be a Utah thing- identity voting.

Kristamatic on August 22, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Yep – same here Krista. All of the locals are supporting Romney BTW I’m not local. Moved here 3 years ago in time to help elect Jason to his first term in Congress.

Y-Not – I got that in an email this afternoon. I was never so proud to call that man my representative as I was after reading that…..

He put country ahead of ambition. Isn’t that what we WANT from our politicians?

LL

Lady Logician on August 22, 2011 at 10:30 PM

LL: Doesn’t sound like wisdom to me. Sounds like bruised ego.

Mr. Grump on August 22, 2011 at 8:04 PM

Or the media spin machine at work. The local media was dying for Jason to get into this race because they KNEW it would get him out of the House of Representatives. They would do anything to get Chaffetz out of Utah politics.

The media had a vested interest in fanning the flames of this fight and the fanned with all their might. Now that Jason has stepped away from the fire, they are working overtime to spin things to make Jason look bad in the eyes of the Tea Party.

Their attempts at damaging his political brand have just begun…..

LL

Lady Logician on August 22, 2011 at 10:35 PM

Fellow Beehive Staters, What do you think about the comments by Chamberlain and Nelson (UT GOP party officials)?

Link to the SLTrib.

Y-not on August 22, 2011 at 6:37 PM

Regarding this story, when one chooses to be a party official (no matter which party it is), your thoughts and opinions are ALWAYS pushed aside. You toe the party line publically and these two knew it. That they went out anyway (and on a show HOSTED by the Democrat Party Chair) shows such a lack of street smarts that begs for their immediate removal.

However, knowing Chairman Wright he will allow them to keep their position but they will be reined in a lot tighter…..

LL

Lady Logician on August 22, 2011 at 10:45 PM

Very Few People on this site get Utah Politics. They think that conservative Mormons have a huge majority and should recognize a RINO when they see one. They think that ousting Sen Bennett was a piece of cake and the same should be done to Sen Hatch.

Utah has a strong moderate to liberal Democratic party. The Mormon/non-Mormon conflict plays into the politics. Moderate (slightly left) Mormons can attract votes from multiple factions. I would hate to play poker with Hatch: He knows when to hold them, fold them, when to walk away, and when to run.

But Hatch is no RINO, unless, of course, we are changing the definition of RINO. Hatch was the one who designed the strategy and tactics that got Clarence Thomas into the Supreme Court and defeated the Liberals attempt to “bork” him. Hatch played a major role in getting the Reagen tax cuts. He may not be as Conservative as you want, and he may play nice with liberal politicians from time to time, I am sure he has no illusions that Liberals will ever support him.

willardcsmith on August 23, 2011 at 9:28 AM

So true Willard. This state is not nearly as ruby red as the rest of the country likes to think. For goodness sake Jon Huntsman was our GOVERNOR and then went to work for a Democrat President. That tells you a lot about this state if you are willing to pay attention.

LL

Lady Logician on August 23, 2011 at 10:42 AM

After weighing his options for months, Rep. Jason Chaffetz is expected to announce today that he will not challenge Orrin Hatch for his U.S. Senate seat next year, after Palin called him out for being a faux TPer sources told The Tribune today.

FIFY

AH_C on August 23, 2011 at 1:54 PM