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Tea party groups still eyeing Hatch

Published January 28, 2011 10:44 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sen. Orrin Hatch might have thought he was getting some good news yesterday when the top strategist for the Tea Party Express came out to say that the Utah Republican was an "original tea partner," and that the group wasn't going to challenge him come 2012.

But strategist Sal Russo's remarks were later "clarified" by the group's chairwoman, Amy Kremer, who said that while Hatch is a "very kind and decent man ... he has also been a politician who has at times gone with the will of the entrenched political establishment instead of the will of the voters of his state."

Not to be outdone, the Club for Growth political action committee — which spent a bunch of money and effort to oust former Sen. Bob Bennett — came out Friday to say Hatch is still a potential target next year.

Citing Russo's comments that Hatch was instrumental in getting votes for President Ronald Reagan in 1976, Club President Chris Chocola noted, "a lot can change in 35 years."

"Sen. Hatch has a lower lifetime average on the Club for Growth's Congressional Scorecard than his former colleague Bob Bennett for a reason. Orrin Hatch has done some good things over the decades, but six term incumbents who vote for TARP, the Bridge to Nowhere, the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac bailout, SCHIP, and higher taxes are quite clearly not 'as good as it gets.'"

Hatch's campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.— Thomas BurrTwitter.com/thomaswburr