Hatch could face Sutherland Institute’s Boyd Matheson in 2018 Senate run

Center front: Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, date and place not specified | Photo courtesy of the Offices of Sen. Orrin Hatch, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Should he seek reelection, long-serving Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch could face a primary opponent in 2018 in the form of Boyd Matheson, Sen. Mike Lee’s former chief of staff.

Matheson, who is currently heads the conservative, Utah-based Sutherland Institute, told Politico Monday he is considering a run for Hatch’s U.S. Senate seat during the mid-term election cycle. The decision will be made regardless of whether Hatch chooses to run or finally retire for public office.

Boyd Matheson, Sen. Mike Lee’s former chief of staff and current head of the Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based conservative think tank, place and date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Sutherland Institute, St. George News

According to Politico, Matheson visited Washington, D.C., last week and met with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Citizens United President David Bossie.

Both men are engaged in recruiting a collection of candidates to challenge Senate Republican incumbents with the exception of Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, according to The Hill. The ultimate goal is to depose Senate Majority Speaker Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky.

Bannon, who is also the executive chairman of Breitbart News, told Fox News Monday the movement’s overall goal is replace establishment Republicans with anti-establishment candidates. The infusion of new blood is anticipated to tear down congressional gridlock and lead to a streamlining of some senatorial processes.

A Bannon-backed candidate in Alabama, Roy Moore, won against McConnell-backed candidate Luther Strange in September in a special election for the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Politico reported that the victory has increased the “anti-McConnell effort.”

Bannon said Matheson was setting up an exploratory committee into looking at the feasibility of running for the Senate. However, Matheson told the Deseret News that there currently is no committee in the works.

There is no timeline in place for when Matheson may official announce a senate run.

Matheson told Politico that he would not support McConnell as majority speaker if elected. He also referred to the current state of Washington politics as “backwards facing and backwards looking” and lacking vision.

The one thing that’s uniting people across the spectrum is frustration with the lack of progress in Congress,” Matheson told Politico. “They’re kind of functioning in this status quo universe.”

The 83-year-old Hatch told voters in 2012 that his run for Senate that year would likely be his last.

Since then he has been encouraged by others, including President Donald Trump, to run again. Hatch has indicated he may do so, but has yet to make an official decision.

Hatch has said that his health, as well as that of his wife, may be deciding factor in the end.

“Senator Hatch has not made a final decision regarding whether to continue serving after 2018, but in the end, Utahns will make that determination, not Washington,” Matt Whitlock, Hatch’s spokesman, said in a statement to media Sunday. “Should he decide to run again, he will win.”

Hatch held his seat for seven terms since 1977 and serves as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

While Hatch’s longevity and influence is seen as an advantage for Utah by some, others nonetheless call for him to retire. Some also see his 40-plus years in the Senate as a reason why congressional term limits should be imposed.

In a poll by The Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah’s Hinkley Institute of Politics that was published in June, 78 percent of Utahns polled said they didn’t want Hatch to run again.

As to being lumped in with the causes of senatorial gridlock, Whitlock said, Hatch has recently been named the most effective member of the Senate.

“While Washington is stuck in divisive gridlock, Senator Hatch is one of the few people in Washington continuing to deliver results for his constituents,” Whitlock said.

Should Hatch step down and not seek an eighth term, U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, has indicated he may run for Senate. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has also reportedly shown an interest in Hatch’s seat.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


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  • Not_So_Much October 12, 2017 at 5:10 am

    ANYBODY besides the original dinosaur!

  • reddirt October 12, 2017 at 10:10 am

    At this point I would vote for Elmer Fudd rather than Hatch. Just how many years does one person feel he needs to “serve” the people. Term limits must be part of the discussion in Washington DC NOW! Good grief Diane Feinstein is running again and she’s 84. So much of the poor legislation from these career politicians could very well be alzheimer’s and a serious case of being out of touch with the average joe in America , since they haven’t had any other meaningful job experience through the course of several generations. I often wondered if they would ever have more sequels to Jurassic Park, seems I was right , here comes Geriatric Park staring Orrin Hatch.

  • Brian October 12, 2017 at 10:48 am

    I’d vote for a turnip if it was running against Hatch.

  • DB October 12, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Senator Hatch, time to go while you’re on top. A nice big house on Bear Lake has your name on it. I’m thinking that if you run again, you will lose. Do you want a Democrat to take over your seat? Could happen, hopefully not. While I’m at, I’ll say again that we need term limits, twelve years. That’s three terms for Congressmen, two for Senators.

  • .... October 12, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    I would give my vote to an Aardvark if one run against Hatch

    • Real Life October 12, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      Felons can’t vote.

  • Caveat_Emptor October 12, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    The next set of polling should expand the assessment of potential candidates, now that we have an inkling that Boyd Matheson has expressed interest, and could have the financial support that comes from Bannon’s contacts.

    I put Chris Stewart in the same category as Ryan Zinke: we appreciate their military service, but have to ask are they really cut out to for the roles they have? Maybe it is just me, but I expect critical thinking to be an attribute for success as a legislator.

    • Curtis October 13, 2017 at 10:13 am

      Every time I am asked who is my Representative it takes me a couple of seconds to remember it is Chris Stewart — the invisible man.

  • jaybird October 13, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Oh God, another tea party turd.

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