When Orrin Hatch was first elected to the Senate over 35 years ago, his colleague, Senator Mike Lee, was just 6 years old. Ironically, 35 years later, Hatch is still in the Senate and he’s latching on to his junior senator for dear life.
Ever since Mike Lee tossed out former RINO Senator Bob Bennett at the 2010 Utah Republican convention, Senator Hatch has undergone a catharsis and has been voting in lockstep with Senator Lee. He wants us to believe that there is no difference between them and that there is no reason to search for a conservative alternative at the state convention on April 21.
Even though the convention is not for another 6 weeks, Hatch’s fate might be sealed today, as was Bennett’s 2 years ago. Today, diehard conservative activists will meet in precinct caucuses all across the state to select 4,000 delegates to the convention at the end of April. If Hatch receives 60% of the vote at the convention, he automatically gets the nomination and avoids a formal primary. If his challengers, most notably, Dan Liljenquist, holds him to between 40-60%, then there will be a primary with the top two candidates. If Hatch is kept below 40% his career is over. The results of the convention might be a forgone conclusion once the identity of those delegates is known tomorrow.
Remember that Senator Hatch can run millions of dollars’ worth of TV ads to his heart’s content. But they will not affect hardcore, savvy political activists who are largely immune to vapid platitudes on the airwaves. In some ways, I wish every state adopted Utah’s convention system.
Many argue that Hatch has sufficiently repented from his old ways of bailouts, amnesty, and government-run healthcare, but there are several countervailing points. First, we all know how senators with conservative constituencies act; they are conservative for the two years preceding their reelection until they resort back to their old ways after reelection.
Moreover, even if Hatch continues to vote with Mike Lee, he is not Mike Lee. We want another Mike Lee. What I mean by that is that there are other factors that quantify a person’s effectiveness in the Senate other than his voting record. Senators like Mike Lee and Jim DeMint don’t just vote conservative; they wake up every day and lead the charge by proposing conservative solutions and proactively fighting bad legislation. You can’t possible quantify the indefatigable work that DeMint has done over the past 8 years. It goes far beyond just voting the right way.
Finally, this is Utah – perhaps, the most conservative state in the country. If we can’t elect two reliable intrepid conservatives from here, we will never get a conservative majority in Congress.
Orrin Hatch is a good man, but it’s time he enjoy his golden years outside of Washington.
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