Orrin Hatch To Run For Eighth Term In Senate

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who was first elected to the Senate in 1976, has reversed a previous decision and will run for reelection in 2018:

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving GOP senator, told CNN he is planning to run for re-election next year, abandoning his plans to quit the chamber after four decades of service.

The Utah Republican — who promised in 2012 that his current term would be his last — said he has changed his mind at this time, partially because he’s been getting encouragement from President Donald Trump and top Republicans to run again.

“I’m planning on (running) right now,” Hatch told CNN Thursday. “That’s what my current plans are.”

Hatch, who will turn 83 later this month and has served in the upper chamber since 1977, could still change his mind again and decide to retire.

But his Thursday comments are the firmest signal yet from the most senior Republican senator, who is third in the line of succession to the President as the Senate’s president pro tempore.

The decision comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump have both tried to persuade the powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to run again.

“His pitch is he needs me,” Hatch said of Trump. “Things are going to be just fine.”

Hatch’s decision comes as Trump has chosen Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor, to be his nominee for ambassador to Russia. Some had speculated that Huntsman would have mounted a primary challenge to Hatch in 2018.

But Hatch said he spent an hour Wednesday with his “longtime friend” Huntsman and said he believed that the ex-governor was not going to challenge him.

“I don’t think he would have ever run against me,” Hatch said. “He didn’t really want to run for Senate.”

I noted Huntsman’s possible candidacy in my post about his decision to accept a post as Ambassador to Russia this morning. I too doubt that Huntsman would have actually launched a challenge to Hatch for the simple reason that Hatch is among the most popular politicians in Utah and a challenge, even from a popular former Governor, would have likely been fruitless. Similarly, assuming Hatch doesn’t again change his mind, it seems unlikely that any high-profile candidates will directly challenge Hatch for re-election in a primary. Given the fact that Utah is overwhelmingly Republican, a win in the Republican primary would mean that Hatch will sail to re-election in the General Election quite easily absent something entirely unforeseeable.

FILED UNDER: 2018 Election, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    From Wikipedia…

    In 1976, in his first run for public office, Hatch was elected to the United States Senate, defeating Democrat Frank Moss, a three-term incumbent. Among other issues, Hatch criticized Moss’ 18-year tenure in the Senate, saying “What do you call a Senator who’s served in office for 18 years? You call him home.” Hatch argued that many Senators, including Moss, had lost touch with their constituents.

    Another example of Republican hypocrisy…quelle surprise…

  2. Jay Gischer says:

    Mitt Romney lives in Utah now. I wonder if that’s relevant.

  3. Mr. Bluster says:

    President Pud on the campaign trail. 10/18/2016
    “If I’m elected president, I will push for a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress except Orrin Hatch. I may need him later.” Trump said at a Tuesday afternoon rally in Colorado. “They’ve been talking about that for years. Decades of failure in Washington and decades of special interest dealing must and will come to an end.”
    “Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!”
    “Donald, you’re a sniveling coward,..”
    Ted Cruz introduces term limits amendment 1/3/2017
    “D.C. is broken,” Cruz said in a statement Tuesday evening. “The American people resoundingly agreed on Election Day, and President-elect Donald Trump has committed to putting government back to work for the American people. It is well past time to put an end to the cronyism and deceit that has transformed Washington into a graveyard of good intentions.”
    “His pitch is he needs me,” Hatch said of Trump. “Things are going to be just fine.”

  4. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    It may be just me, but I think it’s time for Orrin to step down and give someone else’s mom a chance to be proud of her son.

    (Thank you to the Korean lady in my class at Yeungjin College who is the source of the above statement, wishing that her son would stop running for class president after having been so for 5 years.)

  5. US Senate, the most prestigious nursing home in the world.

  6. motopilot says:

    @Mr. Bluster:

    President Pud on the campaign trail.

    He’s PUD No 1
    (wish I could insert larger profile photo here)
    There’s never been a bigger Pud.

  7. Gustopher says:

    I’m opposed to term limits, since I think people should be able to vote for whoever they want (incumbent, foreigner, ficus tree, whatever), but this is kind of pushing it.

    OTish — I kind of wish Obama would announce the that he really was born in Kenya, just to make the conspiracy theorists scream. Also, he should claim to be a Muslim, Atheist, anti-Colonialist and Communist. Toss in transgender and gay too. Just spend a day confirming any conspiracy theory that anyone ever had.

  8. al-Alameda says:

    So, Jon Huntsman takes the Russia Gig thus clearing the way for Hatch to sell out completely for the Trump/Bannon agenda?

    Of course.

  9. DrDaveT says:

    In the big picture, does it really matter who the Senators from Utah are? You could cast all of their votes for the remainder of their terms today, with perfect accuracy, no matter who holds the seat.

  10. Mr. Bluster says:

    @Gustopher:..people should be able to vote for whoever they want.

    AZ AK CA CO FL LA ME MI MO MT NE NV OH OK SD are the fifteen States that impose term limits on their legislators.
    If it can be demonstrated that the acts passed through these select chambers is measurably wiser and more efficient than the products of the other 35 State Assemblies, I will consider that term limits might be worthwhile at the Federal level.

  11. Mr. Bluster says:

    @Mr. Bluster:..are measurably wiser. You know. Like Me.