First Bob Bennett, Next Orrin Hatch ?

sen-orrin-r-utah-a-senior-ranking-member-of-the-senate-judiciary-committeeIt’s two years before six-term Utah Senator Orrin Hatch has to worry about re-election, but there are already signs that he could face the same fate has his soon-t0-be-former colleague Bob Bennett:

Sen. Orrin Hatch’s expected bid for a seventh term won’t happen until 2012 — a lifetime away in political terms. But while it’s impossible to predict the level of anti-establishment fervor or the staying power of forces like the tea party movement two years from now, there are plentiful telltale signs that Hatch may have real reason to start worrying.

Roughly half of Utah voters would vote for someone other than Hatch if he were up for reelection this year, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released Tuesday and commissioned by the Salt Lake Tribune.

And the same sentiment was easy to find at this year’s convention. Many of the same delegates who helped bring down Bennett signaled that Hatch could encounter similar problems with grass-roots conservatives who view any break from ideological purity as a betrayal of the cause.

“He’s toast,” chimed in delegate Saima Leon, when she overheard a reporter inquiring about Hatch’s political vulnerability.

An institutionalist who has deep respect for the traditions of the Senate, Hatch has unquestionably compiled a conservative record by most Washington standards: He’s led the charge to restrict class action and medical malpractice lawsuits, supported a federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage and sponsored a bill to make it easier to carry handguns in the nation’s capital.

But he also has a bipartisan streak that sits uneasily with the hard-core activists who make up Utah’s delegate pool.

Bipartisanship, of course, seemed to be one of the things that helped bring Bennett down, especially his involvement in crafting an alternative health care plan last year, but there are other problems in Hatch’s record for some conservatives:

[W]hile Bennett got lambasted for his support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout, Hatch cast the same vote and then went on to vote “present” on the second, $350 billion TARP installment.

“Orrin had a chance to vote against it. Bob Bennett changed his mind. After all the problems came out, he still didn’t vote against it,” said a former Hatch campaign worker who did not want to be identified because he’s working for another Senate candidate this cycle.

According to a compilation of the anti-tax Club for Growth’s yearly scorecards between 2005 and 2008, Hatch earns a lower ranking than Bennett. While the group said it’s not yet taking any position on 2012 races, spokesman Michael Connolly noted, “Hatch has been, in aggregate, worse than Bennett on our scorecard. He’s lucky to be running in 2012 and not 2010.”

For Utah delegate Leon, it’s the way Hatch handled the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor that gets her blood boiling. She accused Hatch of capitulating to the Democrats instead of fighting against “a racist” nominee last summer.

“He has been very passive. He allowed Sotomayor’s nomination to go through with no opposition, and she belongs to a racist group. La Raza means “the race,” and how [did] we allow a nominee to the Supreme Court to get through on that?” Leon said. “The Democrats, whenever a Republican president nominates somebody, they fight all-out. Hatch did nothing. … That’s why I’m going to be voting and doing everything in my power to get Hatch out next.”

Hatch voted against Sotomayor’s confirmation last year, but, of course,  Leon obviously wanted him to do something else. What that something else would have been is unclear, especially since, at that point, a filibuster would have been pointless because the GOP lacked the votes to sustain it. People like him seem to be looking for a kind of fire-and-brimstone conservatism that would rally the troops, but accomplish very little else.

Orrin Hatch has been in office since before Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as the 39th President of the United States, and as someone who has long supported a term limits Amendment to the Constitution, I don’t necessarily object to the idea of getting rid of someone who has been in office longer than those graduating college this year have been alive. However, it’s worth noting that Bennett was ousted not by the voters of Utah, but by a convention attended by at most a few thousand people, and the same thing could happen to Hatch.

A quest for ideological purity, led as it is in this case by a small and potentially unrepresentative cadre of activists, isn’t necessarily health for a party that aspires to win on the national level.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Congress, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Wayne says:

    Bipartisanship is code word for letting the liberals get what they want just in smaller steps.

    People want their Representative to fight for their ideology. Big shock.

    I like Orrin Hatch but he seems to be more willing to lie down than to fight. He is afraid that the mean MSM may beat up on him or something. Maybe he should fear the voters a little more.

    The Democrats have defeated Supreme Court Nominees without having to vote against them. So don’t pretend that a Senator can’t do more to defeat a candidate than voting against them

    I don’t expect to agree 100% of the time with my representatives but this Dem-Lite crap where I don’t agree with what they do most of the time doesn’t cut it.

    The Dem-Lite Republican Party which overspends and over intrudes just not as much as Democrats hasn’t help it as a national party now has it?

  2. TangoMan says:

    However, it’s worth noting that Bennett was ousted not by the voters of Utah, but by a convention attended by at most a few thousand people, and the same thing could happen to Hatch.

    It’s also worth noting that Bennett was given the opportunity to represent the Republican Party in Utah by, at most, a few thousand people.

    If his ouster is deemed illegitimate then how could his rise to taking the Republican nomination in his earlier elections also not be considered illegitimate>

  3. Wayne says:

    Oh, frankly I get tired of the “if you want someone more conservative, then you are for “ideological purity” bull. It doesn’t work the other way. If it did then wanting someone to be more liberal or so call ”middle of the road”, big compromisers, etc would all be wanting “ideological purity”.

  4. Steve Plunk says:

    These people are not trying to win nationally but in Utah. When it comes time to nominate a national candidate other state’s Republicans and their point’s of view will be included.

    Hatch, like many in the Senate, seems to value the collegial nature of the institution more than his responsibility to represent his constituents. That kind of bipartisanship doesn’t sit well with those who elect him. I’m sure some want to see a little more fight and a little less back slapping.

    With a couple of years before election time I suspect we’ll see him change.

  5. A quest for ideological purity, led as it is in this case by a small and potentially unrepresentative cadre of activists, isn’t necessarily health for a party that aspires to win on the national level.

    You still don’t get it. This isn’t about ideological purity but is instead a revolt against the go along to get along spend spend spend status quo.

    Hey, here’s a fun game. Think of all the explanations that will be offered by the usual pundits on November 3rd for the electoral bloodbath that took place the day before.

  6. sam says:

    I’m just curious. What do you guys of the right persuasion think this is about:

    Arizona legislature bans ethnic studies programs in public schools

  7. An Interested Party says:

    Hey, here’s another fun game…think of how many heads will explode (including many around here) on the night of November 2nd if the GOP fails to win a majority in either house of Congress…

  8. TangoMan says:

    I’m just curious. What do you guys of the right persuasion think this is about:

    It’s about a rejection of leftist multicultural cancer. A step in the right direction. I’m fully in support. I was against the idiotic anti-racist math innovations in Mass. and Hispanic math teaching standards in Arizona and the source of inspiration for those inanities was ethnic studies programs and ethnomathematics.

  9. Wayne says:

    Sam
    I’ll bite.

    “The new law forbids Arizona schools from using any curriculum that promotes “the overthrow of the United States government” or “resentment toward a race or class of people.” It also disallows any curriculum that’s “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group” or that seeks to “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.””

    Sounds good to me. People should be treated as individuals and not by what ethnic group they belong to. That doesn’t mean that ethnicity has to be completely ignore. Only that it is not the main purpose of the study. We shouldn’t teach white supremacy or any other ethnic supremacy in school.

  10. Wayne says:

    AIP
    I will be content although not happy with large gains. If we have only small gains, I will be very disappointed and surprise. We won’t know for sure until it happens but it is looking pretty good for the moment. I figure the whole Tea part deal would have died out a long time ago but it is gaining speed.

  11. anjin-san says:

    It’s about a rejection of leftist multicultural cancer

    I guess that would be the same cancer that allowed say, Italian and Irish immigrants and their culture to grow to become part of the bedrock of our country.

    Or is it only “cancer” when the immigrants are the wrong color?

  12. TangoMan says:

    I guess that would be the same cancer that allowed say, Italian and Irish immigrants and their culture to grow to become part of the bedrock of our country.

    I was wondering where you and your knee-jerk leftist responses vanished to. Don’t forget to respond in the Illegals thread.

    As for Italians and Irish, they came long before the multicultural cancer took root. They immigrated during times when the nation had a very strong assimilationist ethos. There were no such thing as Irish Studies departments, wide spread Italian Immersion in schools, reworking math concepts to anchor them into Irish “ways of thinking.”

  13. ak4mc says:

    I guess that would be the same cancer that allowed say, Italian and Irish immigrants and their culture to grow to become part of the bedrock of our country.

    My Irish, Scottish, Dutch and French ancestors all came here legally. And assimilated.

    Idiot.

  14. Stan says:

    “They immigrated during times when the nation had a very strong assimilationist ethos.”

    As represented by the Know Nothing party in the 1850’s and the revived Ku Klux Klan in the 20’s? Not to mention the immigration act of 1924, with its national origins quotas and its exclusion of Asian immigration.

    Good grief, TangoMan, do you have any idea what you’re talking about?

  15. TangoMan says:

    Good grief, TangoMan, do you have any idea what you’re talking about?

    Good grief, Stan, can you comprehend what you read?

    If I’m arguing a point that compares assimilationalist sentiment of the past to today, then your pointing to the efforts of certain sectors of American society who resisted the inclusion of immigrants doesn’t speak at all to a.) the assimilationist incentives before the immigrants, nor b.) the tolerance for multiculturalism in American society in the past.

    Your entire response misses the point entirely. Do you really believe that the mood of the past was more tolerant towards multiculturalism and less tolerant of assimilation than the mood today?

  16. anjin-san says:

    certain sectors of American society who resisted the inclusion

    Given the exclusion laws, that argument is kind of a joke. We practiced legalized discrimination based on race, and you are whining about how they “resisted” an inclusion that never existed in the first place.

    Good grief, Stan, can you comprehend what you read

    I think Stan comprendes just fine. He knows nonsense when he see it.

  17. TangoMan says:

    I think Stan comprendes just fine. He knows nonsense when he see it.

    You’re such a comedian. This reads like a blind man explaining the color red to another blind man.

  18. Pug says:

    As for Italians and Irish, they came long before the multicultural cancer took root.

    I think the fine natives called them WOPS and Micks if I remember correctly. Very “assimilationist”.

    What’s that about the more things change the more they stay the same?

  19. sam says:

    @Tman

    They [Irish and Italians] immigrated during times when the nation had a very strong assimilationist ethos.

    Well, ask any Boston Irishman if that is true. “No Irish need apply signs” were rampant throughout the city for a long, long time. And then there were the nativist Know Nothings

    The Know Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1840s and 1850s. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to Anglo-Saxon values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. Membership was limited to Protestant males of British lineage over the age of twenty-one.

    Doesn’t seem to betoken a strong assimilationist ethos to me, but perhaps I misunderstand what you mean by the term.

  20. Stan says:

    TangoMan, when you wrote

    “They immigrated during times when the nation had a very strong assimilationist ethos”,

    I somehow thought that “the nation” meant “the nation”, whereas you apparently meant “the new immigrants”. I’m sorry I don’t come up to your standards. I take my deficiencies as supporting evidence of the thesis that people of Eastern European Jewish ancestry are inferior in intelligence, as suggested by Sir Francis Galton and his disciples during that wonderful period when our nation and his had a very strong assimilationist ethos.

  21. anjin-san says:

    You’re such a comedian. This reads like a blind man explaining the color red to another blind man.

    In other words, now that your “argument” has been shredded, you are going to go with name calling and sarcasm. (and not particularly effective sarcasm at that, sort of like being punched by a marshmallow)

  22. Steve Plunk says:

    A successful thread hijack.