Hunger strike against Hatch?
May 19th, 2012
03:56 PM ET
6 years ago

Hunger strike against Hatch?

(CNN) – The longest McKay Christensen has ever gone without food is 36 hours.

But now he's vowed to give up eating altogether in a bizarre protest against Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, saying he won't take a bite until the veteran GOP senator agrees to take part in a televised debate ahead of the state's June primary.

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Christensen, a 43-year-old warehouse manager, is an ardent supporter of former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, the main Republican candidate attempting to oust Hatch in a heated primary battle.

While Hatch, who's running for a seventh term, has agreed to a radio debate set to take place shortly before the June 26 contest, some of Hatch's critics say that's not enough. They want a debate soon, and they want it on TV.

Christensen says he's willing to risk his health to make that happen.

"I know this is pretty extreme, but this is an election," Christensen told CNN. "It's going to take something extreme to not only get their attention, but to create enough pressure that they'll have to respond."

Liljenquist's campaign, as well as the editorial boards for the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, have also called on Hatch to participate in a TV showdown. They make the case that Utah voters deserve to not only hear the candidates, but to see them side by side.

Team Hatch, however, points out that the senator has already participated in two debates this cycle, prior to the state's party convention in April.

"The question of us not doing a debate is a moot point," Hatch's communications director Evelyn Call told CNN. She added the radio debate was "more than adequate" for the purpose of their campaign, arguing Hatch has been meeting with voters on a regular basis.

"Our job is to make sure we get our message out, meet with Utahans and voters," Call said. "Our job isn't necessarily to get our opponent more press coverage."

After his "last meal" of barbeque on Saturday, however, Christensen said he'll begin his hunger strike and persist until Hatch changes his mind.

"I hope that they will see it's something I'm serious about," Christensen said.

He got the idea after reading about a student's recent hunger strike to influence the University of Minnesota-Duluth to build a gender-neutral restroom on campus. The student's protest lasted less than 24 hours before school officials caved.

Christensen, who lives in Centerville, Utah, is hoping for a similar outcome, saying he expects to get a "serious response" from Hatch within four or five days.

But Hatch's campaign said the tactic is not "going to have any kind of influence" on their decision.

"We can't control what supporters of other campaigns do," Call said.

Liljenquist's team, meanwhile, said it does not "condone or encourage a hunger strike," and Christensen, who has volunteered for the campaign, said the campaign directly asked him not to do it.

And they're not the only ones discouraging the move. Christensen, who has not consulted a doctor about his decision, says his wife is unhappy with his decision, especially as their second eldest daughter of five is set to graduate high school at the end of the month.

Standing 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing 331 pounds, however, Christensen says he's in good shape to handle an extended fast.

"But I've read up on what starving can do to the body, and hopefully it doesn't go that far," he said.

Describing himself as "passionate for politics," Christensen says he is known to take unusual action in the name of elections, such as volunteering to drive all over the state to campaign for those running for even the smallest of offices.

Christensen, who emphasized that he was a "sandwich guy," said he'll strictly stick to water during his strike.

"But my wife is a great cook, so I've had to ask her to dial it down a bit."

In all earnestness, though, Christensen added he's prepared to take the hunger strike as far as possible, even if that means all 38 days until the primary.

"People think there are other ways to get Sen. Hatch to debate on TV," he said. "I told them I think it's going to take some added pressure."

Filed under: 2012 • Orrin Hatch • Senate • Utah
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Devon

    Yo Bishp Hatch, Whats the Matter, The past & helpin your fellow Bishop with a BILLION on earmarks gonna come back & bite your Tabby Nackle Ass?????

    May 19, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  2. Devon

    Yo Bishop Hatch, How much is your annual Salary from Bain????

    May 19, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. Richard T.

    Double down on wingnuts. Isn't 36 years as a Senator enough for Hatch? And the Tea Pottie hunger strike is just stupid.

    May 19, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Devon

    again, what up my brothers & sistas? It is true This man helped mitt with MANY MANY Earmarks. Not makin up. & here is another scoop, A leak before the leak. Christie is not on the Shortlist. HE IS THE LIST. Done Deal. 100 %.

    May 19, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. B.

    Hatch has been around long enough. some of these people become a big part of the problem as career Politicians.

    Term Limits !!

    May 19, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. JohnnyInSNJ

    Tea Bagger Party member priorities are way out of whack. Of all the things a person could go on a hunger strike peace, clean water, health care – he chooses to starve for a debate that only serves to push the nation further in one direction.

    May 19, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Thomas

    McKay Christensen , Bobby Sands , Cesar Chavez , Mahatma Gandhi !


    May 19, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. HenryMiller

    "...6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing 331 pounds..."

    This guy could go on a hunger strike until the election and wind up healthier than when he started.

    May 19, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. Pete

    Sounds like he could lose some anyway,isn't that a bit obese at 331.Mr.Henry Miller is right here,he could be a lot healthier losing a few,don't ya think,he also should be cheched out on his mental state,voting for a republican is mentally deficienct in my books,but that's from someone that doesn't live in Utah isn't it!!

    May 19, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. gg

    i think bishop romney should call on the prophet joseph smith to see which road hatch should travel

    May 19, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. once upon a horse

    if you think about it if a person choses to not eat...then why should I care??? Hunger strikes are one of the DUMBEST type of protest a person can do. I am really surprised a right winger would do such a thing. Isn't normally what "bleeding heart liberals" do??

    May 19, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  12. slippery

    Too bad Utah has to be the base of extreme dribble.

    May 19, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. Ken

    I hate to say RIP to you McKay Christensen but if you threaten a politician with your life if he does not submit to a televised debate you have made a poor choice. The Republican figures you are not going to vote for him so if you starve yourself to death, that's one less vote for his opponent. It's not a smart move on your part. I suggest you find another way to move him to another debate rather than starving yourself to death.

    May 19, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. Nicole

    I wonder what the guy in the right rear of this picture looked like before his face lift. Older but less scary?

    May 19, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. Mike

    Hatch's communications director Evelyn Call " . . . She added the radio debate was "more than adequate" for the purpose of their campaign . . . . " Vote like you understand this message. What is done by Hatch is not based on the electorate's desires or needs. There is absolute unambiguous evidence of it. STOP reelecting career politicians! Why won't you people see that is the REAL problem in government – career politicians.

    May 19, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  16. Keep on Trying

    "Our job is to get out the messege...and to be able to walk away from any questioner who might make our candidate look bad." Debates mean that this long time flip flopper would have to actually answer questions he doesn't want to.

    May 19, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  17. rat pt 01

    Actually this could turn out well. If he dies this means republicans in Utah don't care about the individual. If you want republicans to hear you then just wave some money infront of them.

    May 19, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  18. Nick

    Now...if we could just get the rest of the tea party to go on hunger strikes til the sun rises in the West the country would be all set.

    May 19, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  19. GI Joe

    Let the idiot starve - it will save more food for his wife and kids - and his wife won't get beaten any more.

    May 19, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  20. bvilleyellowdog

    Rethug attacking rethug – priceless.

    May 19, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. dd

    Duh. Is this guy insane. Hatch can win if the guy commits suicide! I would never vote for someone this ignorant.

    May 19, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  22. enuff

    I'm going to hold my breath until Romney comes up with some actual meat to his agenda.

    May 19, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    I believe there's a million better things u could fast for and political debate sure aint one of them.

    May 19, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  24. Jason

    Poor guy's gonna starve to death.

    May 19, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  25. PAv

    Tea Partiers are about as nutty and whacky as they come. A hunger strike? Really? Pfffff...

    May 19, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
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