Hatch mulling 2018 reelection bid

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE is opening the door to running for an eighth Senate term, despite a pledge he made in the 2012 campaign to retire. 

The Utah Republican said Wednesday that he is undecided about running for reelection in two years.  ADVERTISEMENT”I’ve had a lot of people pushing me to do that, but, you know, I haven’t made a decision on that yet,” he said. After the 2012 election, when conservatives and outside groups tried to make the Utah Republican a top target, Hatch pledged to retire in 2018 if he was sent back to the Senate. Hatch’s seat is one of eight that Republicans are expected to have to defend in 2018, compared to 23 seats for Democrats and two held by independent senators who caucus with the Democrats. With Republicans retaining the Senate majority in 2017 and facing a favorable map the following year, Hatch would have large sway over finance issues and tax reform if he stays in the Senate. Hatch, who is 82 and would be 90 at the end of an eighth term, has up to four more years as chairman of the Finance Committee. If he runs for reelection, Hatch could face a primary fight, with former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman earning speculation as a potential challenger. Hatch also met this week with Evan McMullin, a former GOP congressional staffer who ran as an independent presidential candidate this year. McMullin told The Salt Lake Tribune that the meeting was impromptu and he hasn’t made a decision on the race.

“He’s a nice man and has served our country for decades,” he said of Hatch. “I haven’t decided if I’ll run for Senate or another office in 2018. I’ll make that decision based on what is best for the future of Utah and our nation.”

Hatch’s office separately told the Tribune that sit-down was part of a string of meetings Hatch has been having about building momentum for a GOP agenda. “Working together is especially important as Republicans will soon control the House, the Senate and the presidency, and must take advantage of a unique opportunity to make meaningful progress for the American people,” Hatch’s office said in a statement. A survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling released earlier this year found that 71 percent of likely Utah voters think Hatch should retire, compared to 19 percent who want him to run for an eighth term.