Chaffetz declines Senate run
August 22nd, 2011
06:35 PM ET
12 years ago

Chaffetz declines Senate run

(CNN) - Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah will not launch a primary challenge against Sen. Orrin Hatch next year, he announced Monday.

The two-term congressman who represents Utah's 3rd Congressional district enjoys strong support from many tea party activists and other grassroots conservatives. Hatch, who is running next year for a seventh term in the Senate, is facing opposition from some in the tea party movement, including FreedomWorks, a major DC-based conservative grassroots organization that is actively working to find a candidate to take on Hatch in next year's primary.

Hatch acknowledged the Chaffetz announcement in a press release from his campaign manager Dave Hansen.

"We wish Congressman Chaffetz the best in his congressional campaign and in his continued service as one of Utah's representatives. Senator Hatch looks forward to continuing to work together as a delegation to find solutions to the critical issues facing Utah and our nation," Hansen said.

But Chaffetz's decision does not leave Hatch in the clear. Freedomworks National Political Director Russ Walker said Monday he is confident "a principled fiscal conservative will enter the race to defeat 36-year big government incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch."

Last year FreedomWorks was one of the groups that targeted three-term Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah in the months leading up that state's GOP convention. Bennett was defeated at the convention in his bid for his party's re-nomination. Conservatives Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater advanced to the party primary, with Lee winning the GOP nod and then the general election.

Hatch, who wants to avoid Bennett's fate, has a history of reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats, a fact that obviously does not sit well with many tea party activists and other conservatives. But Hatch has taken steps since last year to buffer himself from criticism from those on the right by highlighting his conservative chops. He led the Senate GOP push for a balanced budget amendment and was a co-sponsor of a Republican amendment to repeal the new health care law. Earlier this year he landed a perfect score in the American Conservative Union's 2010 ratings.

Last Thursday, Hatch received support from an unlikely person, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a favorite of many in the tea party movement.

"To your particular point about Senator Orrin Hatch, he is doing good in terms of trying to get a balanced budget and he has been for the last couple of decades. He has pushed hard for some fiscal reforms that we have got to see implemented," Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, said on the Fox News Channel.

"We need to be agreeing and embracing his idea and working with him to make sure that that happens instead of shooing him away and shooing him out of a tea party movement," added Palin, who is considering a bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Hatch quickly capitalized on Palin's comments, saying "I am grateful for the support of Sarah Palin as I continue to lead this fight. Mrs. Palin is highly respected by Utahns and the national conservative movement and I appreciate her influence to create a united front in confronting the issue of our national debt. It is an honor to have Sarah Palin's backing for the balanced budget amendment and I will continue to use my time in the Senate to see it passed."

- Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PSteinhauserCNN.

Filed under: 2012 • Jason Chaffetz • Orrin Hatch • Senate • Utah
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. diridi

    Utah, please do not entertain these Idiots....please...o.k,

    August 22, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. ConservaFASCISTS/TeaHadists/Tea Queda/TeaLiban

    Just what the county needs. Another Tealiban obstructionist.

    August 22, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  3. The Other Michael in Houston

    Interesting that Sarah is actually endorsing a person who is willing to COMPRIMISE. That is until the tea party turns against her, then she will be flip flopping like the rest of the Republican candidates, well I cannot honestly say all of them, Michelle Bachmann is staying true to her insanity so at least she is consitantly..........crazy.

    August 22, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Thank you President Obama for not jumping into Libya and for not listening to the hot war heads of the Republican party, they didn't know what they were talking about then and they still don't. Thank you Mr. President for killing OBL, it may have angered Republicans that it was you who did it but we Americans are very happy. Thank you Mr. President for remaining calm under pressure from the Republican party and I pray you continue to do so for the good of the country. Thank you.

    August 22, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |

    This question should be the price of admission to hold political office in America:

    Do you endorse or reject that cutting tax rates lowers the deficit and creates jobs? Please answer in 5 words or less.

    August 22, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. AEK

    Oh good for him! Another Tea Party activist throws his tin foil hat into the ring. Once the word gets out that his buddies in control of the House of Representatives will only get around to 40-50 pieces of new legislation this session because of their predilection towards social engineering and obstruction he may have second thoughts.

    August 22, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  7. gt

    new blood both parties... thats way to long 6 terms ...enough....

    August 22, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Well, I guess they don't want Utah to have any seniority at all in the Senate. How much farther to the right does Hatch need to be?

    August 22, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Clwyd

    As Water's said, "The tea Party can go to hell!" The quicker the better that God works against them the better!

    August 22, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. Candy Taylor

    just what we need another teaparty nut! Vote em out in 2012!!!

    August 22, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. Annie, Atlanta

    Another tea partier in Congress. Good grief, haven't they done enough damage to this country already? If they hate government, why do they so desperately want to be a part of it? To kill it? To destroy us? Would one of your journalists out there please ask these creeps what the ultimate goal is?

    August 22, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    Either way, I doubt this seat is vulnerable to a takeover by the Democrats which is a very good thing.

    August 22, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. Name king

    Someone please ask the repugs and tea aggress to stop lying and spewing talking point so much that the gullible in society eat it up even though they experience the real thing and yet they allow these folks to drive in a lie into their head by simply repeating it over a d over again. These repugs are getting just as bad as the teabaggers all they've got is emotions and feeling, their are no rationality, reality. Why these guys hate fact so much. Fact is like a poison to these guys. They'll hold the country hostage for their voodoo economic and when reality strikes after they've gotten what they want and it's a buss, they blame Obama saying that he's the president and he should not blame anyone else. Obama still have 3/4 of the bush failed policies still in tacked and cannot do nothing about it because the congress which repugs controlled is actually more powerful than the presidency, every thing originate from the congress. The president power is to sign yea or nay,
    and then the the congress can still override him with 2/3 majority vote.

    August 22, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    Chaffetz is a partisan ideologue loon. Complete whack job. He'll probably beat's about what we should expect from the midwestern states like Utah at this point, i.e., disasterous idiocy.

    August 22, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. Publius Novus

    Orrin Hatch is insufficiently "conservative" for the Tea Patsies. Wow!!!

    August 22, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |