The editorial board of Utah’s largest newspaper blasted Sen. Orrin Hatch in a column accusing him of an “utter lack of integrity” and urging him not to run for re-election next year as it would be “basically a theft from the Utah electorate.”
The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday named Hatch, 73, its “Utahn of the Year,” a dubious honor it says the longest-serving Republican in Senate history earned by his “part in the dramatic dismantling of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments,” “his role… in passing a major overhaul in the nation’s tax code,” and “his utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.”
Hatch has been publicly weighing whether to run for an eighth term next year, but for months, he has denied reports that he was preparing to announce his retirement.
More recently, President Donald Trump has launched an effort to sway Hatch to run again. In large part seen as an attempt to block Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee who is seen as Hatch’s obvious successor, from running. Romney has been one of a handful of Republicans who has consistently opposed Trump, and the president is loathe to have such a critic installed in Congress.
Hatch’s official Twitter account proudly shared a photo of the paper’s front page, saying the senator was “grateful for this great Christmas honor.”
But in the accompanying editorial, the Tribune slams Hatch’s decisions that will “impact the lives of every Utahn, now and for years to come.” The Tribune’s editors accuse Hatch of traded favors with the White House – the reduction of the monuments in exchange for delaying his retirement – at the expense of his constituents.
While the editors declined to praise or condemn the tax plan, it noted that Hatch promised in 2012 that it would be his last campaign, especially now that Congress finally succeeded in passing a tax overhaul that had been his primary reason for sticking around.
It’s a promise the editors say Hatch should keep.
“Perhaps the most significant move of Hatch’s career is the one that should, if there is any justice, end it,” the wrote.
“Clearly, it was a lie. Over the years, Hatch stared down a generation or two of highly qualified political leaders who were fully qualified to take his place,” they 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.”
And the editors said Hatch has ignored his own advice, given to Capitol Hill interns nearly 35 years ago.
“You should not fall in love with D.C.,” he told them. “Elected politicians shouldn’t stay here too long.”
Instead, they borrowed a line from Hatch’s successful first campaign against then-three-term Sen. Frank Moss in 1976: “What do you call a senator who’s served in office for 18 years? You call him home.”
“It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career,” they wrote.
“If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him.”