Search for Conservative Challenger to Orrin Hatch Begins Anew

September 2, 2011

By Kyle Trygstad, Roll Call

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch escaped a top-tier intraparty opponent last week, but it’s still highly likely he will be challenged at next year’s state GOP convention.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s decision last week not to run against his fellow Republican threw a wrench in the gears of the anti-Hatch factions in Utah and in Washington, D.C. Chaffetz, a second-term Congressman, was viewed as having the best shot to end Hatch’s 35-year run in the Senate. But conservatives and tea party groups are not throwing in the towel.

“I do think Orrin Hatch will face opposition from the far right tea party groups,” GOP consultant LaVarr Webb said. “We don’t know who that will be yet, but there are several people considering running.”

The Club for Growth had been openly recruiting Chaffetz to the race, but the conservative anti-tax group remains committed to ousting Hatch.

“We continue to believe that Utah Republicans can do better than a big government bailout supporter like Sen. Orrin Hatch,” club spokesman Barney Keller said.

Webb’s daily newsletter for political junkies,, quoted Utah tea party organizer David Kirkham in an interview Tuesday saying he is “very seriously” considering challenging Hatch. But the car-restoration business owner is waiting to make any decisions until after his company’s annual event on Sept. 10.

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