Tea Party supporters in Utah think that longtime Senator Orrin Hatch has forgotten his conservative credentials and become moderate, if not liberal, by voting to extend the deficit 16 times.
Hatch is facing his first serious primary challenge, and while it looks like he will beat it back, he isn’t happy about it. NPR reports on how upset Hatch really is:
“These people are not conservatives. They’re not Republicans,” Hatch angrily responds. “They’re radical libertarians and I’m doggone offended by it.”
Then Hatch, a former boxer, turns combative. “I despise these people, and I’m not the guy you come in and dump on without getting punched in the mouth.”
So far Hatch hasn’t thrown any punches, but his anger is in stark contrast with his service in the Senate. He has moved to the right and entrenched himself as a loyal Republican, but Hatch once had a reputation of crossing the aisle. He may not have voted with the Democrats very often, but at least he would talk to them. Ted Kennedy, of all people, was a good friend of Hatch.
A Republican is going to be the senator from Utah. Whether it is Hatch or his Tea Party challenger Dan Liljenquist, considered his main opponent out of nine candidates, the primary is the general election in Utah. Even for those who don’t live in Utah or aren’t Republicans, the candidate to root for is the far more reasonable Hatch.
Hatch isn’t going to smash anyone in the mouth, but he may talk political smack back. Maybe if the Tea Party loses in Utah and against Senator Dick Lugar in Indiana, the extremists challenging in the primaries will back down and some normalcy can return to Washington. The way things were normally done there was far from perfect, but it sure is better than the abnormal behavior where the parties can’t even agree on raising the debt ceiling for already approved expenditures.