Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Tuesday that he won’t run again in 2018 if he wins a seventh term this fall.
Hatch, the state’s longest-serving senator, faces several intraparty challenges this year from former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist and Rep. Chris Herrod. Democrat Pete Ashdown is making a second run at Hatch’s post.
While he had previously hinted that his next term would be his last, on Tuesday at a Utah Capitol news conference on federal land management he made it official. First, he said in passing that he would like to see the state succeed in its efforts to control federal lands "during my last term in the Senate."
"I don’t have time to run after this one," Hatch said in a Tribune interview after the news conference.
Hatch is 77 and will have a birthday later this month. He would be 84 before the next time his seat is up for election in 2018.
"I’ve said it will be my last term," he said, "but I want to make it the best six years anyone’s put in for Utah."
Hatch’s challengers have said it’s time for new leadership, and he’s facing opposition from some of the same tea party activism that toppled former Republican Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010. The senator’s campaign argues that his seniority will count for Utah, especially if Republicans retake the Senate this year and Hatch takes over chairmanship of the Finance Committee.
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