Democrat to run against Hatch for Senate
November 9th, 2011
01:55 PM ET
11 years ago

Democrat to run against Hatch for Senate

(CNN) - While Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah has been defending his re-election bid from the right, he'll soon have a challenger from the left.

Democrat Pete Ashdown will launch his campaign on Friday, kicking off his second run against the six-term senator in the largely Republican state.

Ashdown ran against Hatch in 2006, finishing second with about 31% of the vote, while Hatch got about 61%.

"When I ceased my race last time, I promised I would be back," Ashdown said. "This race really compels me. This is where I think I can do the most good."

Ashdown, who runs the oldest Internet service provider in Utah, said he wants to expose and fight what he calls "undue money and influence" in the federal government, something he believes Hatch now represents.

He said he'll focus his campaign around what he sees as a desperate need for more accountability and transparency among members of Congress - knowing what is on Hatch's public calendar, for example.

"I would love to know who Sen. Hatch is meeting with, his motivation on votes," Ashdown said. "I'd have him journal and blog directly rather than have his staffer do it. I'd like to understand what he does for the political action committees that write him checks and why they write him checks."

While Hatch has been elected six times to the seat, he now faces strong pushback from tea party conservatives who feel he's gone too moderate in the Senate.

FreedomWorks, a national tea party grassroots organization, has especially targeted the senator and propels a campaign called "Retire Hatch," which aims to launch a conservative candidate strong enough to challenge Hatch in the primary.

The group was successful in Utah last year when it went after three-term Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, who eventually finished third at the state's GOP convention. Conservatives Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater advanced to the party primary, with Lee winning the GOP nod and then the general election.

But several potential contenders have already pledged not to run, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who said he would run for re-election to the House instead.

As far as Ashdown, Hatch's team said the Democrat ran a "clean" campaign in 2006, but they believe "in the end" the senator will win a seventh term.

"We obviously take every challenge seriously, and Ashdown is a very competent, capable person," Hatch's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said. "I'm confident that in the end, the senator will be re-elected. He's right on the issues."

Ashdown conceded he won't raise as much money as Hatch, but he's hoping he'll have higher name recognition after his last run and a strategy focused on what he sees as less-partisan issues: accountability, transparency and influence.

"A first-time senator saying, 'I'm going to go to Washington and overall the tax code' doesn't work," he said.

- CNN's Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Also see:

Perry addresses values in new ad

DNC continues anti-Romney blitz

Gingrich: I'm the tortoise, Romney's the hare

Filed under: 2012 • Orrin Hatch • Senate • Utah
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. thomas

    It's time !

    The old guy has no Moxie !

    November 9, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  2. Ed DFWTX

    I thought Utah was a one party system. Nice to see a Democrat going against Hatch, an old, ,out of touch, career politician.

    November 9, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  3. From Utah

    As a Utahn, I can ashamedly say there's no chance a Democrat is ousting Hatch. For some inexplicable reason a majority of Utahns seem completely incapable of giving a second's thought to any non-Republican candidate.

    November 9, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  4. NC

    We need term limits for the Senate and Congress.

    November 9, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. ART

    He needs to retire, just like Mitch Mcconnel who looks like a walking corpse .

    November 9, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. unsub

    utah IS what is wrong with politics!

    November 9, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. MTATL67

    I agree it is time to set term time limits for both houses of Congress and limit pension and health coverage. If we don't these Congressmen think they are kings and queens entitled to whatever they want. It might also help curb the bribery relationship they have with lobbyists and decrease their influence over our government.

    November 9, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |