Political speculation is usually a waste of time, but that doesn’t stop weird people like me from guessing whether Sen. Orrin Hatch will seek re-election in a couple of years.
My best guess is that he will retire after 42 years in the U.S. Senate, especially if Republicans lose control of the Senate. But he is certainly keeping everyone guessing, saying he still has a lot to accomplish, and backing away from his pledge that his current term is his last. He clearly wants to keep his options open.
If his level of Senate activity and his ongoing communications blitz is any indication, Hatch will try to state in the Senate forever. Hatch inundates my email inbox with messages about Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, national pain strategy, fighting Obamacare, questioning the Homeland Security secretary on a variety of topics, Utah’s aerospace industry, immigration, Supreme Court nominations, ozone, Sheryl Sandberg, gun control, medical marijuana, net neutrality, rapid DNA, family services, and on and on. He writes numerous opinion essays for major media and posts many videos.
And it’s all good stuff. Hatch is a whirling dervish in the U.S. Senate. He’s involved in significant ways in dozens of issues, including some of the biggest problems facing the country. He has enormous clout in the nation’s capital, and he’s not afraid to work across the aisle to get things done.
Next year, if Republicans control the Senate and the presidency (not likely), Hatch will be in a terrific position to push some really meaningful legislation, especially comprehensive tax reform. He could do some great things for Utah and the nation.
But even though retirement is a dirty word to him, I don’t believe he will seek an eighth term in 2018. At some point, everyone has to call it a day. He’ll be 84 when he’s up for re-election. A half dozen younger Republicans will be after his seat. His approval ratings aren’t great. A lot of his close friends will encourage him to retire.
He’s had a remarkable career, and it isn’t over yet. There’s a lot of fight left in Utah’s senior senator.