Retire Orrin Hatch
FreedomWorks, a grassroots organization that was essential to Tea Party wins in 2010, has made it clear that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has to go. They been constantly hammering Hatch big government record for months, hoping to send him the way of his former colleague, Bob Bennett; though they haven’t yet endorsed his primary opponent, State Sen. Dan Liljenquist.
Hatch has been trying to come back to the right on fiscal issues, but Tea Party and fiscal conservatives have been unconvinced that the change is real. And yesterday, FreedomWorks made that clear yesterday by releasing a new web ad slamming Hatch for the $7.5 trillion in debt that he has racked up while serving in the Senate:
Looking for another shake-up of the Republican establishment in the United States Senate, the Club for Growth has endorsed Richard Mourdock in his bid to unseat Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN). The Club released this statement on Tuesday:
The Club for Growth PAC today announced that it is endorsing Richard Mourdock for United States Senate in Indiana. The seat is currently held by incumbent Republican Senator Richard Lugar.
“After thirty-six years in Washington, it’s time to send Richard Lugar home,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “Richard Lugar has served honorably, but he’s been part of the problem in Washington. He’s voted for bigger government, more spending, and he even recently voted against a permanent ban on congressional pork. Richard Mourdock will vote to limit government, repeal ObamaCare, and will help bring back the jobs lost to the Obama’s economic policies. The Club for Growth PAC proudly endorses Richard Mourdock for United States Senate.”
The Club was influential two years ago in primary races in Utah and Pennsylvania that led to incumbents being tossed out of office over more fiscally conservative challengers. Their rationale for getting involved in this race is that Lugar has aligned himself against taxpayers too many times:
Recently, Lugar was one of only thirteen Republicans to join Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid in voting against a permanent ban on earmarks.
That was the final straw for the Club for Growth PAC, which has now endorsed Lugar’s conservative challenger, Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock.
In a defense against criticism against his fiscal record, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch recently claimed in a interview on Fox News that he is “one of the top conservatives in the history of this country.” The Club for Growth, a group that has not hid their contempt for Hatch, noted that his record has several negatives, including voting for the TARP bailouts, expansion of Medicare and No Child Left Behind.
While Hatch has declared that he will not share the same fate as his former collegue, Bob Bennett, a new survey from Public Policy Polling of a likely primary matchup with Rep. Jason Chaffetz shows that Utah Republicans may do just that.
Utah GOP Senate Primary
- Sen. Orrin Hatch (i): 43%
- Rep. Jason Chaffetz: 47%
- Not sure: 10%
Interestingly, 60% of Utah Republicans approve of the job Hatch has done. However, only 45% of them believe he should the nominee against a generic “someone more conservative,” which received 44%. In case you’re wondering, Chaffetz is viewed favorably by 61% of Utah Republicans. Only 17% view him unfavorably.
Republicans in the state don’t necessarily hold a normal primary, at least not right off. To win without a primary, a candidate has to receive 60% of the vote during the state party’s convention. If no candidate receives 60%, the top two from the convention will go head-to-head statewide.
Anyway, if you’re Orrin Hatch, you certainly don’t like the outcome of this poll; but this will likely be a very messy primary.
A couple of weeks ago, I noted that both Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) could be the targets of primary challenges. The Club for Growth, which has targeted Republicans in Congress in the past and won, had hinted that they may go after Lugar. They were much more open in encouraging Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to run against Hatch. FreedomWorks, an influential group inside the tea party movement, also announced their “Retire Orrin Hatch” campaign.
The Club for Growth just bought ad time against the two in their home states as they push for them to back fiscally conservative policies, while at the same time noting that they have not great great records on spending.
Here is the ad running in Utah:
And the ad in Indiana:
Two long-time big government Republican Senators may wind up with tough primary battles on their hands in 2012; Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN). Hatch’s race would be higher profile, given his likely opponent, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the ousting of Sen. Bob Bennett by Utah Republicans in 2010 and the fact that several conservative groups, including the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks are already making plans to to get involved.
But Lugar could be in as much trouble, since he has mostly thumbed his nose at tea party activists and continued to support positions outside the base of his party (Hatch has shifted to the right); most recently voting against an amendment to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to bailout foreign countries.
Richard Mourdock, who currently serves as Treasurer of Indiana, got a boost yesterday when Erick Erickson of RedState endorsed him in the primary:
I have, for a number of months, been asked what I thought of Indiana and the race for the Senate there. I have said all along that Richard Lugar’s time has passed and it is time for us to replace him with someone else.
I wanted to wait and see who would stand up to take the challenge of moving that seat to the right. One man has — Richard Mourdock.
While some conservatives are lining up behind Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), FreedomWorks has made it clear that his days of selling out taxpayers are numbered:
It’s official: Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch is the first Republican incumbent who will be targeted by one of the nation’s most influential Tea Party-aligned organizations.
FreedomWorks PAC plans to launch a “Retire Orrin Hatch” campaign at the Utah Republican Convention this Saturday, the group’s first major move of the 2012 congressional cycle, The Daily Caller has learned.
The group says targeting Hatch is symbolic. It signals the beginning of the next wave of Tea Party activists working to replace Republican incumbents they see as too moderate and out of sync with a movement stressing fiscal conservatism.
“The bottom line is Hatch doesn’t represent the state of Utah,” said Russ Walker, the vice president of political and grassroots campaigns for FreedomWorks PAC. “The state of Utah is far more fiscally conservative than Orrin Hatch is. It’s an opportunity to pick up a seat, it’s an opportunity to find somebody who is better.”
Among grievances FreedomWorks has with Hatch is they say is a legislative history of voting to increase the debt ceiling 16 times, voting in support of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) legislation and voting against a ban on earmarks.