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.
Just like in 2008, the Club for Growth is putting together a series of white papers on candidates running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. They’ve already looked into the records of Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney. The next candidate under the microscope is Jon Huntsman, who formally announced his campaign on Tuesday.
Jon Huntsman is being pegged as 2012’s John McCain, a moderate-ish Republican that has crossover appeal. But he does have some conservative credentials, such as a generally solid record on taxes. The Club notes that Huntsman cut over $400 million in taxes from 2005 to 2007, though he did raise fees and proposed a cigarette taxes hike during his time as governor.
While the Club makes note of his “B” on fiscal policy Cato Institute in 2006 (a grade that is largely due to his record on taxes), they also point out that Huntsman received an “F” on spending in the same report:
Where Huntsman fails utterly is on spending. He has proposed an annual average
hike in spending of close to 6 percent in real per capita terms, which substantially outstrips personal income growth in Utah, and makes him one of the biggest spending governors in the nation.
Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and Ambassador to China, formally announced yesterday that he will seek the Republican nomination for president:
Former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) launched his presidential campaign Tuesday with the message that he is a post-partisan political leader.
Speaking with the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline as his backdrop in an effort to evoke Ronald Reagan, who held a campaign event from the same spot a generation ago, Huntsman said he would bring to the presidency a focus on substance and not on politics.
“We will conduct this campaign on the high road,” Huntsman said during his speech, calling modern political debate mostly “corrosive.”
The mounting debt and other problems facing the United States are “un-American,” he said. But he wouldn’t extend that line of attack against his former boss, President Obama.
Huntsman said his campaign against the president for whom he’d served as ambassador would boil down to policy, not attacks on patriotism.
“He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love,” Huntsman said. “But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better president, not who’s the better American.”
With Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a better, more consistent conservative, eyeing what would be a high-profile primary campaign, Sen. Orrin Hatch recently rolled out an endorsement from talk show host Mark Levin:
Hatch’s campaign promoted the endorsement of Levin, a dyed-in-the-wool conservative radio talk show host who’s shown a willingness to go after the Republican establishment.
“It would be a sad place in the Senate if we knocked you off in the Republican system in Utah,” Levin said last night on his radio show, on which Hatch was a guest. “What’s crucial going forward is that we stop the president’s agenda, take back the United States Senate, and I feel that you would be … a terrific elder statesman to a lot of these other young guys who I’m going to be pushing in these other states.”
Hatch has been gearing up for a tough primary battle for renomination heading into his reelection effort next fall. He’s pivoted to tackle some of conservatives’ pet issues even more aggressively, in part to help stave off a challenge.
Yep, because the type of Senator needed to fight President Barack Obama’s agenda is one that supported the TARP bailouts, wallet-busting budgets, debt limit increases, bailouts for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, expanding Medicare through an expensive prescription drug benefit, wasteful pork projects and No Child Left Behind. [/sarcasm]
Let’s face it. Levin is a fraud. He always has been. Yeah, he talks a good game, but when it comes to electing actual believers in limited government, Levin can be found backing the statists that caused our problems.
We may have our first high-profile primary against an incumbent for next year’s election. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican currently serving in his second term, has indicated that he will run against Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) next year:
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz has told several Utah political insiders that he plans to run against Sen. Orrin Hatch next year, setting up a major intraparty Republican 2012 battle.
All eyes have been on the second-term congressman for months. But five Utah politicos, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Chaffetz has told them directly in recent weeks that he will contend for the Republican nomination.
Chaffetz said Tuesday that he’s not making any official announcement yet, but he is moving toward a Hatch challenge.
“I have an increasing clarity,” Chaffetz said. “Until I walk up to the microphone to make an announcement, it’s not official. But it’s no secret I’ve been thinking about this and I’ve been gravitating in that direction.”
Hatch’s campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said he has heard that Chaffetz has made some calls to tell people he would get in, but hasn’t heard anything definitive.
While Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who was elected last year with tea party support, has not endorsed Hatch for re-election, the Club for Growth made it very clear yesterday that they would get behind Chaffetz; noting Hatch’s inconsistent record on economic issues:
While it’s hard to find a Republican running for president that hasn’t supported cap-and-trade - although most of them have magically changed positions, Jon Huntsman, the former Governor of Utah and US Ambassador to China, still seems to support the concept, according to comments recently made in an interview with Time:
Cap-and-trade ideas aren’t working; it hasn’t worked, and our economy’s in a different place than five years ago. Much of this discussion happened before the bottom fell out of the economy, and until it comes back, this isn’t the moment.
So, “this isn’t the moment”? I guess we’ll wait until the economy improves to try it? Sorry, that’s not good enough. The proposal that has been put forward is not something to be so passive about. It would could cost American families a lot of money. The Obama Administration estimated that it would cost the average family nearly $2,000 a year; or as CBS noted, the “equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15 percent.” The Heritage Foundation gave a much higher figure in terms of average costs over the long-term; nearly $7,000 by 2035.
Even if the economy improves, would you really consider implementing a policy that is clearly going to make energy more expensive? That is the question that Republican voters should be asking Huntsman.