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. lance corporal

    I've never seen a GOP voter who didn't need to lose 50+ lbs so he should be fine

    May 19, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  2. Mark

    LOL at the guy calling his overdue diet a hunger strike. Double LOL at CNN for turning this into a new item.

    May 19, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Why talking–just get rid off this needless junk in next election. Targeted attack in Chicago is of GOP thugs ruse, ok. Folks, ask for senate/congress term-limits act. Do it with all your guts in ass.

    May 19, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    I mean "Old junk".

    May 19, 2012 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  5. JohnK

    331 pounds? Sounds like he could use a fast for a while. Guess he's been eating too much right-wing baloney.

    May 19, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  6. Jean Sartre

    This is just incredibly STUPID!

    Having said that, what is the surprise here... they are ALL REPUBLICANS!

    May 19, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  7. Hawk in Texas

    This is too stupid to even comment on.

    May 19, 2012 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  8. AZSenior

    Hatch is smart, but he's scared too. He knows that he comes across as a non-caring mean guy, and he does not want to over expose his weakness. Fact is, he's way past due for retirement, but I'm sure that his Mormon base will follow like a bunch of lost puppy dogs, they always do.

    May 19, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  9. Michael B.

    gg said:
    i think bishop romney should call on the prophet joseph smith to see which road hatch should travel
    It would be hard to ask for guidance from someone who is not God. Perhaps you should not assume that people worship Joseph Smith – because Mormon's certainly don't.

    May 19, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  10. D2O

    Motards in action. That explains everything.

    May 19, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  11. GonzoinHouston

    Check back with him in 4-5 days and see how he's doing. Is anyone monitoring this guy to ensure he's really fasting? My BS meter is getting a pretty strong response.

    May 19, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. mgc6288

    Anyone notice he's in the photo surrounded by Liberals Reid and Pelosi? Not a wise move for someone being constantly accused of being too moderate...

    May 19, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  13. ArmyCSM

    I live in Utah and the last thing this state needs is another tea party Senator. Mike Lee is one too many and since I believe in natural selection, I'm fine if Christensen dies of starvation.

    May 19, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  14. polycarp pio

    If you want to attack Mitt or Hatch do so on the basis of their political views,you are wrong to keep refering to them as BISHOP THIS BISHOP THAT, you are deriding their faith not the man. By the way I am not a mormon and I do not agree with their faith. PP

    May 19, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  15. CK

    I love looking at these comments. All of these people talking trash about the Tea Party, yet they support the Occupy movement. The Tea Party actually pay the fees and permits to assemble peacefully. The occupy movement have to be kicked out because they freeload on public property, and trash it. This is why the Republicans won in 2010, and why they will win this November. The majority of people who are not part of the wingnut left are tired of those acting without responsibility.

    May 19, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  16. M

    Actual weight 331lb; target weight 250lb; current waist, not specified; target waist, 38. He'll need to lose 2lb a day; I hope he has an exercise programme as well.

    May 19, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  17. Gary Owen 2/7

    The Red Neck Right is simply out of control.

    May 19, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  18. Internet Child

    Who caaaaares. Should I threaten to fast until my college upgrades its bandwidth and kills its firewalls so I can play WoW on campus?

    May 19, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  19. CAWinMD

    Let him starve. You appease one wacko, you have to appease them all. I was surprised when Israel caved to that kind of pressure from Palestinian prisoners. It's an individual choice. If you want to die, have at it.

    May 19, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  20. zip

    I just want to see a Mormon candidate answer this simple question. When you die, will you go to planet Kolob and have hundreds of spiritual wives? Love to see Mitt Romney answer that question.

    May 19, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  21. NameMarsha

    Aren't you the guy from Melaleuca?

    May 19, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  22. Larry L

    At 331 he'd look like a bear riding a bicycle. I'm hoping his Mormon "mission" is over by now. This could work out well for him... If he loses about 110 pounds he won't even be considered morbidly obese.

    May 19, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  23. AussieDude1276

    Give the Mormon comments a break gg.
    It's completely irrelevant.
    Or do you just see Utah mentioned in an article and feel the need to spout it off?

    May 19, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  24. Weasley

    Senator Hatch is an adult, and can choose to participate in a debate, or not.

    What is it with these Right Wing nut jobs, who seem to think that they can control everyone around them? The entire lot of them are pathological control freaks.

    May 19, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  25. smum

    Not sure which of the three types is more stupid than the others...the ones who will reelect Hatch, the ones who will vote for a teabag nut case, or the one in a hunger strike for such a stupid cause. Insanity rocks! LOL

    May 19, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
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