Hatch Fooled By Newspaper Editorial Calling For His Retirement

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, signs the final version of the GOP tax bill during an enrollment ceremony at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/AP

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was duped by his home state newspaper.

In a scathing Christmas morning editorial, the newspaper named Hatch its “Utahn of the Year” – a designation that recognizes a person who has had a large impact on the state, “for good or for ill.” The newspaper then called on Hatch to step aside.

But Hatch (or his staff) seemed to have missed the point of the piece, tweeting the editorial Monday afternoon and saying he was “grateful for this great Christmas honor.”

It appears Hatch didn’t read the article.

The newspaper called Hatch, who is the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history, a politician with an “utter lack of integrity” who has an “unquenchable thirst for power.” While the newspaper praised Hatch for his role in passing tax reform last week, it said that legislative victory, coupled with Hatch’s efforts in the “dramatic dismantling” of Utah’s national monuments, signal it’s time for an exit.

“Over the years, Hatch stared down a generation or two of highly qualified political leaders who were fully qualified to take his place … Hatch is now moving to run for another term — it would be his eighth — in the Senate,” the editorial said. “Once again, Hatch has moved to freeze the field to make it nigh unto impossible for any number of would-be senators to so much as mount a credible challenge. That’s not only not fair to all of those who were passed over. It is basically a theft from the Utah electorate.”

While sources close to Hatch have told TPM that the senator, who has served for 42 years, is leaning toward retirement, Hatch has publicly rejected the idea. During President Trump’s speech in Utah announcing his significant reduction of two national monuments, Trump flat-out urged Hatch to seek reelection, a move likely spurred by Trump’s distaste for Mitt Romney, who’s been floated as a replacement for Hatch if he decides to retire.

Nearly 24 hours after the initial tweet, Hatch’s office claimed the statement from the senator’s account was just “tongue-in-cheek,” his spokesperson said on Twitter Tuesday.

Read the full Salt Lake Tribune editorial here.

Correction: Due to an editing error, the headline mistakenly said the paper called for Hatch’s resignation, instead of his retirement.

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