Will Hatch Call It Quits?

Politico looks at the rumors swirling around Sen. Orrin Hatch’s retirement plans (or lack thereof), noting that the octogenarian’s decision about whether to stay or go could roil the 2018 midterm election and shake up the power structure in the Senate.

Hatch pledged in 2012 to step down after this term, but Republican Party leaders are trying to convince him to run again as part of their quest to widen the GOP’s advantage in the chamber beyond its current 52-48 majority.

Report Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett:

Orrin Hatch and Dianne Feinstein will be 84 and 85 years old, respectively, on Election Day 2018. If that thought alone isn’t tiring enough, here’s another way of looking at it: If they run and win, both would eclipse the 90-year mark by the end of their term.

But if the serenity of Utah or the coastal beauty of California is beckoning either senator into retirement, neither is willing to publicly entertain it just yet.

“Age doesn’t seem to be a factor,” said Hatch, the Utah Republican who is now in the presidential line of succession and heads the powerful Senate Finance Committee. “I’m tough and strong and I have the usual infirmities that anybody my age has but nothing stops me.”

Hatch, who said after his last reelection in 2012 that this would be his final term, added, “I don’t think I’m ready to give up the ghost yet.”

As the 115th Congress — and the 2018 election cycle — begins in earnest next week, so is the accompanying speculation about who will retire, pursue other political ambitions or step down for other reasons. Much of the retirement whispering has centered on Hatch and Feinstein, two long-serving members with influential roles and seniority in the chamber.

For her part, Feinstein declined to elaborate on her future political plans, telling a reporter recently on whether she planned to run for reelection: “Oh, I’m not going to answer that now.” But her longtime colleague, retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), insisted Feinstein was going nowhere.

“Oh, I think she is. I think she is running. I think she’ll run. I support her,” Boxer said. “She said she’s running. She told me she’s running. And I know she’s doing fundraising. So my expectation is she will.”

Like Hatch, Feinstein is also embracing a powerful role as the new lead Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she will be the caucus’ point person on the fight over Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominees and help litigate contentious political issues such as immigration and criminal justice reform. Feinstein also has a healthy $2.5 million in her campaign account.