Green Room

Palin Endorsed the Wrong Candidate in Utah

posted at 12:54 pm on May 23, 2012 by

On last night’s “Greta,” Sarah Palin endorsed sitting Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in his primary against challenger Dan Liljenquist. Given that Hatch is the more moderate and far more establishment person in the race, will this hurt Palin’s standing among conservatives? She is, after all, generally viewed as the anti-establishment endorser, even though her record doesn’t necessarily speak to that. In 2010, for example, she endorsed establishment-supported Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) over libertarian-minded Ovide Lamontagne in the New Hampshire Republican primary race for the Senate. She also endorsed John McCain in his primary race in 2010, though obviously that may have been a gratitude endorsement rather than a policy-oriented substantive one. This year she voted for, and spoke publicly favorably of, uber-establishment (and often times moderate) candidate Newt Gingrich in the 2012 Presidential primary race.

Note: Ayotte’s record both prior to and after her election in 2010 has been a solidly conservative one, but Ovide was widely considered the more conservative candidate among grassroots groups in New Hampshire and across the country.

This is not going to make me popular on this site, but I think Palin erred here. While it probably won’t cost her support among her core backers, it does provide more ammunition for critics who think she’s more about media attention than solving the nation’s budget and other problems. And while Ed Morrissey is exactly right that FreedomWorks and other organizations trying to oust Hatch really ought to focus on liberal Democrats first and foremost, the fact is that whoever wins the Utah Republican primary is likely to win the general election – and Liljenquist is the more conservative candidate. While Hatch is a generally reliable conservative vote, a few things cause me to think it’s time for Hatch to go:

First, Hatch was on the air with Laura Ingraham during my brief stint with her show, and he claimed he never voted for creation of the Department of Education (in response to a claim by FreedomWorks). While it is true he voted against the final conference legislation which created the Department, he also voted for a prior version of the legislation in 1979. This could be somewhat misleading, to say the least, since it is very possible that passage of the prior version was important to getting the conference report to the floor of both the House and the Senate.

I reached out to Hatch’s office for comment on the potential discrepancy between the votes, but his press secretary was unable to get back to me before the time of publication. I will update this post if I receive any clarifications.

Second, Hatch’s much-proclaimed lifetime ACU ranking whitewashes that as of late it seems to vary depending on the year. While some of this is likely due to the partisan nature of Congress (many “conservatives” seemed to like big spending under Bush and reclaimed conservatism in 2009), as well as the different legislation “scored” by the ACU in different years, his recent record seems to change with his electoral prospects. A look through his American Conservative Union rating record shows he has gotten more conservative as the 2012 election draws closer, and especially so after the defeat of former Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) in 2010. Consider:

  • 2007 ACU rating: 76%
  • 2008 ACU rating: 80%
  • 2009 ACU rating: 88%
  • 2010 ACU rating: 100%
  • 2011 ACU rating: 100%

Third, Hatch’s claims to have brought forth a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in 1977 is accurate…but that particular BBA included tax increases as a way to balance the budget. It is thus not the same style of BBA often introduced and backed by conservatives – including Hatch – today, so an apples-to-apples comparison is inaccurate. And while I normally don’t hold what someone did over 30 years ago against him or her, Hatch has used his co-sponsorship of that legislation to great effect in campaigning, and it was part of Palin’s endorsement, so it is fair game to note that he wanted tax increases as an option to balance the budget.

Again, all in all, I think getting Hatch out of office despite a generally conservative voting record is not the best use of conservative groups’ time and money. However, that’s how things have played out so far in this election cycle. As such, conservatives have the option of backing a 36-year incumbent with a center-right voting record (not forgetting his transgressions, which include grudgingly advising Bill Clinton to nominate Ginsberg and Breyer to the Supreme Court and his vote for TARP) or a more conservative challenger in a state where the Republican is almost certain to win. I say support the conservative upstart.

[This was originally posted at Race42012.com]

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Comments

No, Hatch was more likely to win, she made the right choice. Kingmaker!/

rndmusrnm on May 23, 2012 at 1:12 PM

I remember back in the late 70s and early 80s when I would see Hatch on TV as a kid. Just looking at the man made my stomach queasy. I never liked him, never will. I agree that Palin has picked the wrong candidate to back. I do not know anything about the other candidate though since I have not been watching the race other than to see he prevented Hatch from getting a pre-primary victory.

astonerii on May 23, 2012 at 1:14 PM

You have the media attention thing right, Sarah is about getting camera time and ultimately income for Sarah.

NoDonkey on May 23, 2012 at 1:16 PM

I don’t think it’s so wrong of her to endorse Hatch. She is a Republican after all, and if she wants to have any future in the party she can’t go backing every challenger to an incumbent Republican. Hatch is most likely going to get renominated, and a Palin endorsement of Liljenquist would not change that. Why pick someone likely to lose and that will probably make enemies that you don’t need to. Is she cynically trying to protect her brand by endorsing those she thinks are going to win, sure but it’s also smart politics to not anger too many in your party.

Now, would I like to have seen Hatch retire, yes. 6 terms is more than enough, time for fresh blood.

A look through his American Conservative Union rating record shows he has gotten more conservative as the 2012 election draws closer, and especially so after the defeat of former Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) in 2010.

Good, maybe we can teach this old dog new tricks.

rbj on May 23, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Why, when I read these comments, does Thomas Paine’s comments about ‘sunshine patriots and summer soldiers’ come to mind.

Hell, I think Hatch should retire too!! But I don’t fault Governor Palin for lending him her endorsement. She’s been pretty careful with her endorsements, (notwithstanding her endorsement for McCain – which was in fact, a class thing to do)and picked {or created} several winners.

I love the one comment above ‘I agree that Palin has picked the wrong candidate’ and then goes on to admit that the commenter hasn’t a clue about the other candidate….

C’mon guys, don’t just be ‘anti’, be constructive consensus builders….. Only 167 days until November 6th, call a friend…..

Pecozbill on May 23, 2012 at 1:30 PM

I love the one comment above ‘I agree that Palin has picked the wrong candidate’ and then goes on to admit that the commenter hasn’t a clue about the other candidate….

Pecozbill on May 23, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Do not need to know anything at all about the challenger, she could have not endorsed. But the endorsement went to someone who is very much not deserving of a conservative endorsement. So picking my comment to attack the way you attacked it seems frivolous and shows that you entered the discussion with some sort of ax to grind. Something is not right about Hatch, and I do not even mean about his voting record.

astonerii on May 23, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Most folks down on Palin oddly also remark that they don’t know all that much about Liljenquist.

The question for Palin fans is, Guys—do you or don’t you trust Palin? Palin went all gung-ho anti-Establishment in Delaware, only to find that the lady she backed ran her piehole on Bill Maher’s camera. Maybe Palin’s trusted sources were telling her there was something wrong with Liljenquist that the media are not above sitting on until after the primary.

Sekhmet on May 23, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Can somebody remind me why we care who Palin endorses?

deuce on May 23, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Most folks down on Palin oddly also remark that they don’t know all that much about Liljenquist.

The question for Palin fans is, Guys—do you or don’t you trust Palin? Palin went all gung-ho anti-Establishment in Delaware, only to find that the lady she backed ran her piehole on Bill Maher’s camera. Maybe Palin’s trusted sources were telling her there was something wrong with Liljenquist that the media are not above sitting on until after the primary.

Sekhmet on May 23, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Still does not mean she has to endorse anyone. Hatch is a terrible person to back as a conservative. It sends the wrong message, that you can be liberal progressive right after election, but once you get to within 2 years of election, just make up for it. It is not as if a democrat who replaces Hatch has much chance of becoming entrenched and unbeatable down the line if Liljenquist loses in the end. Either way, backing him is backing him. It certainly degrades the value I place in Palin.

astonerii on May 23, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Can somebody remind me why we care who Palin endorses?

deuce on May 23, 2012 at 2:13 PM

She was the governor of Alaska. She was the VP pick in 2008. She continues to be a thorn in Obama’s side. She is a supporter of the tea party. She is a strong conservative woman.

You can disagree with her, I sometimes do, but show some respect, deuce.

Fallon on May 23, 2012 at 2:26 PM

This isn’t the first time Mrs. Palin has made a pragmatic endorsement.

Logus on May 23, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Romney endorsed Hatch, why b*tch at Palin?

Buckshot Bill on May 23, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Can somebody remind me why we care who Palin endorses?

deuce on May 23, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Because her endorsements generate lots and lots of votes. Hers is the most coveted conservative endorsement out there, whether her non-fans like it or not. Ted Cruz did cartwheels of joy when he got it. Now he has a solid chance to beat Dewhurst.

Missy on May 23, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Romney endorsed Hatch, why b*tch at Palin?

Buckshot Bill on May 23, 2012 at 2:37 PM

That’s a really good point. People are putting those two into establishment and anti-establishment boxes and they both are more complex than that.

thebrokenrattle on May 23, 2012 at 2:45 PM

I think Sarah is endorsing the correct candidate, MM’s opinion notwithstanding. She’s entitled to her opinion and I am entitled to mine. She was wrong about Santorum, too.

crosspatch on May 23, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Can somebody remind me why we care who Palin endorses?

deuce on May 23, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Beats me. I’m not impressed with talkers and that’s all she’s done for the past four years.

NoDonkey on May 23, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Palin values her independence. So do I.

alwaysfiredup on May 23, 2012 at 4:31 PM

…and there is nothing “uber-establishment” about Gingrich. None of the Establishment mouthpieces supported him and he dissed them repeatedly. He was the most conservative candidate who could win, and that’s why he got her support.

alwaysfiredup on May 23, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Beats me. I’m not impressed with talkers and that’s all she’s done for the past four years.

NoDonkey on May 23, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Yep, because it’s not like she put her money and credibility on the line making early endorsements that changed primaries and general elections. On the other hand, you could swear by Romney’s recent conservative-ish rhetoric that is completely at odds with his governing record.

alwaysfiredup on May 23, 2012 at 4:34 PM

I watched her interview with Greta last night.

Sarah spent 5 minutes railing about Obama and crony capitalism. She then spent another couple of minutes talking about her endorsement of Ted Cruz in Texas, stating “The people of Texas deserve fresh blood”.

And then she threw her endorsement out there for Hatch, who’s been in the Senate for 36 years. Are the people of Utah not entitled to some “fresh blood” also?

And then there is this to consider….

If re-elected, Hatch will be the most senior Republican Senator, and would be elected President pro tempore of the United States Senate if the Republicans take control of the Senate.

Big mistake, Ms.Palin. Huge.

JPeterman on May 23, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Big mistake,
Gov.Palin. Gov.Romney
Huge.

JPeterman on May 23, 2012 at 6:12 PM

FIFY

ebrown2 on May 23, 2012 at 9:41 PM

Lamontaigne, that lost twice before, the very model of an ewstablishment hack

narciso on May 24, 2012 at 9:10 AM

The Hatch endorsement, was almost an oversight, Cruz, as with Murdock and Fischer, are her main concern, but then again, who was endorsed by Christine O’Donnell,

narciso on May 24, 2012 at 9:19 AM

alwaysfiredup on May 23, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Oh gee, enorsements? What courage. What fortitude.

Forget George Washington, let’s put Saint Sarah on the one dollar bill.

NoDonkey on May 24, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Mark Levin also has been supportive of Hatch, for a long time now.

I suppose he’s just looking for attention as well.

Man, that’s a weak, pathetic argument.

There is going to continue to be disagreement among conservatives on this one. Some of the people I most respect and admire are now at odds on this.

I’m willing to listen to both sides, as I do sympathize strongly with the “throw ‘em all out” impulse, but I do not want to arbitrarily oppose people only because of the length of time served. Hatch is a major figure on the Judiciary Committee, critical in Supreme Court appointments. Mark Levin’s view on these matters carries a lot of weight with me, and I suspect Sarah Palin feels the same way. She may have spoken to Mark about this privately for all we know. She does respect him quite a bit, as do I.

Brian1972 on May 24, 2012 at 5:02 PM