While Rep. Jason Chaffetz has not yet formally announced that he will challenge Sen. Orrin Hatch next year, he sounded like a Senate candidate Thursday during a meeting with The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board.
That included swiping at Hatch for changing stands on immigration, and Chaffetz saying he doesn't care how the Legislature redraws U.S. House districts Â about which, of course, a Senate candidate who runs a statewide race would care little, but a House candidate would care deeply.
Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he was able to upset former GOP Rep. Chris Cannon in 2008 because Cannon attempted to look tougher on immigration than his record showed he really was, "and quite frankly I see Orrin Hatch stepping in the same trap, too."
When asked for an example, Chaffetz pointed to Hatch's efforts to distance himself from the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) that would provide a pathway to permanent residency for children of undocumented immigrants and help them attend college. Hatch introduced an early version of that bill years ago.
"Look at the DREAM Act. I mean, he sponsored it. Then he said he wasn't going to support it. Then it came up for a vote, and he missed the vote. So everybody's offended," Chaffetz said.
Hatch, who missed last December's DREAM Act vote, has said he opposed it because it wasn't as good a bill as the one he previously supported and claimed Democrats brought it up for a political show.
A call to a Hatch campaign spokesman was not immediately returned.
Chaffetz, when asked if he preferred any of the many proposals being made about how to redraw Utah's U.S. House districts, said, "I probably care less than anybody else" about how the lines are drawn.
He said, "I try not to mince words. I probably am going to run" for the Senate, he said.
The Tribune reported a month ago that Chaffetz has told political insiders that he is running, but Chaffetz only would say at that time that he was "gravitating in that direction."
Though his answer has now firmed up, he adds, "I still think it will be after Labor Day before we make an announcement" formally. He added that by October, he expects to see "a whole lot of people jumping into" Utah's U.S. House races.