Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah is Retiring – That's Very Good for Democrats

Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah is Retiring – That's Very Good for Democrats

Mitt Romney is the likely heir of Orrin Hatch's seat, and he is sure to be a thorn in Donald Trump's side.

Mitt Romney is the likely heir of Orrin Hatch's seat, and he is sure to be a thorn in Donald Trump's side.

By
Drew Levine
-
2/13/2018

On Monday, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah announced his impending retirement, confirming what had long been speculated.  Hatch, 88, began service to the United States Senate in 1977, making him the second most senior active U.S. Senator (second to Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont), and the eighth longest-serving Senator in United States history.  As the longest-serving Republican, Hatch is also the current president pro tempore of the Senate.

Hatch’s retirement opens the door for 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to run for the seat.  Romney has reportedly been in serious consideration of a run for the seat contingent upon Hatch’s retirement, much to Donald Trump’s chagrin.  As of early 2017, Mitt Romney maintains an enormous favorability rating, ensuring his probable success if he were to compete for Hatch’s vacant seat. 

Barring a Democratic upset in Utah, which would be highly unlikely, Romney’s ascension to Hatch’s seat present two valuable opportunities for Democrats.  Foremost, Romney, a steadfast critic of Trump, represents a brand of conservative politics that rejects the explicit vulgarity and cruelty of Trumpism.  In particular, Romney criticized the broad strokes of the Trump administration’s initial Muslim ban, vociferously condemned the candidacy of Roy Moore, and roundly condemned Trump’s molly coddling of white supremacist groups after the Charlottesville rallies.    

Secondly, were Romney to be elected, it would add one more credible Senatorial voice to the growing chorus of Trump-resistant Republican legislators.  While Senator John McCain arguably functions as the current torchbearer for this faction, he was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and reportedly has a poor prognosis.  Romney is well-poised to step into his shoes, and to work towards growing the faction with an energy that Senator McCain cannot muster, given his physical condition.  

The Republican Party is desperate need of reform, both for the sake of country and for the sake of its own lasting political viability.  Until it is reformed, Democrats can and should capitalize on the internal division that Romney’s introduction to the Senate could sow.  And perhaps, if we’re lucky, Romney – a decent man, in my opinion – might be the one to lead the party out of its significant cultural darkness.  I, for one, prefer dog whistles to outright cruelty. 

Drew Levine

Drew Levine is a co-founder of Statesmith.com. He's also a practicing attorney, a yoga instructor, and an enormous Star Wars nerd.

Drew Levine

Drew Levine is a co-founder of Statesmith.com. He's also a practicing attorney, a yoga instructor, and an enormous Star Wars nerd.