Five reasons Sen. Orrin Hatch may be bowing out of re-election

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Sen. Orrin Hatch speaks in the Utah Senate chambers, Feb. 16, 2016, taking a few questions.

Washington • Sen. Orrin Hatch said Tuesday that he won’t seek another term, opting to spend time with his family after serving more than 40 years in office. Only a couple weeks ago, he wasn’t sure whether he’d run again. Here are five reasons Hatch could be bowing out.

Going out on top • Hatch had long promised to use his power in the Senate to reform the U.S. tax code, a goal that seemed out of reach until a big push made it possible last month. He was one of the key folks involved and earned a shout-out and praise from President Donald Trump (which Hatch also repaid in spades). Hatch also used his tight relationship with Trump to get the president to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments by some 2 million acres, a win for the senator who had vowed to reverse designations by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Retirement is easier • Hatch had said that if he ran, he’d win. But the deck wasn’t favoring him. Recent polls have consistently shown that some 75 percent of Utahns didn’t want Hatch to run again. His promise in 2012 not to seek an eighth term would have been played and replayed in every ad against him. And running as a pro-Trump senator in 2018, in Utah, could have backfired given the state’s less-than-enthusiastic feelings toward the president who hovers around 50 percent approval among residents. Hatch has some $4.7 million in the bank for his campaign, but his last bid cost him more than double that.

An elder statesman • Hatch is the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history and at age 83, the eldest in the majority. Had he run, he would be 84 by Election Day, and if elected, 90 years old by the time he finished the term. The current Senate is the oldest on record, and other senators have served longer but age may have played a factor. Hatch’s physical health is good for his age, a health report issued by a Senate physician showed last year, but he’s acknowledged he feels his age a bit more.

Legacy center • Friends and supporters are already raising money to build the so-called Hatch Center, a place to showcase Hatch’s archives of public papers, provide a forum for discussion and train the next generation of leaders. With his retirement, the senator can focus on the center, raise funds with fewer restrictions and highlight his legacy.

See more Jazz games • Hatch is one of the Utah Jazz’s most ardent fans, and in post-Senate life, he can definitely see more games. And which Jazz fan wouldn’t want to watch more games with phenomenal rookie Donovan Mitchell.

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