Orrin Hatch: Tea party slayer, or follower?
Published: July 10, 2012 02:55PM
Updated: June 28, 2012 02:56PM
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Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo Sen. Orrin Hatch, shown in June 2012, has introduced an immigration bill that would increase the number of foreign-born scientists and engineers who are allowed to live and work in the U.S.

The other day, we said that the re-nomination of Utah's extremely senior senator, Orrin Hatch, was a loss for the tea party movement that had, just two years ago, turned out Sen. Bob Bennett.

- Primary lessons: Tea party ebbs; money flows - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial, Tuesday

It is no surprise that Orrin Hatch won the Republican Party’s nomination for a seventh term in the U.S. Senate. If you can’t win a primary election with 36 years of seniority and a $10 million war chest behind you, there’s something seriously amiss. In Hatch’s case, there was nothing amiss. Hatch has been a conservative stalwart his entire career and closely attuned to the views of his Utah constituents. The only ones who appeared to believe otherwise were his opponent, Dan Liljenquist, and the tea party. ...

Over at Slate, politics watcher David Weigel isn't so sure:

- The Tea Party Won Utah, Seriously

... Spooking any Republican is good for the Tea Party. Spooking the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee was priceless. Hatch found himself opposing Federal Reserve actions designed to stimulate the economy. "The Fed often blurred the distinction between monetary policy and fiscal policy during the financial crisis," he told Ben Bernanke, "and it is time to move back toward a clearer distinction between the two." As he said that, he backed Ron Paul's effort to audit the Fed's books. I don't think that last action is particularly right-wing, but it was something the Tea Party -- activist and well-funded leadership -- demanded. And because this was the GOP's top Finance guy talking, Democrats were denied partisan cover, which influences the way voters look at any policy.

FreedomWorks said as much in its instant response to the election. "The limited-government movement is largely responsible," wrote political director Russ Walker, "for the 180-degree change in Senator Hatch’s votes and rhetoric over the past two years." If the conservative base can whip a 36-year incumbent into rectitude, it can whip any of you guys. ...