Hatch Facing Opponents in Next Election

Hatch Facing Opponents in Next Election

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Richard Piatt ReportingSenator Orrin Hatch isn't up for re-election for another year, but candidates are already lining up to run against him. Each has their own reasons. Each knows it's not too early to start running.

Pete Ashdown is a Democrat; the owner of XMission, and a candidate for US Senate against incumbent Orrin Hatch. His motivation is pretty basic.

Pete Ashdown, Candidate For U.S. Senate: "He's out of touch. I think that's the main thing, is that I'm more in touch with the business community because I've been here for 12 years running a business."

You might hear the same kind of thing from a few Republicans these days. An inter-party challenge for Senator Hatch comes from Steve Urquhart, a state Representative who also feels it's time for a change.

Steve Urquhart, Candidate for U. S. Senate: "People realize it's time for change, there's a need for more energy and drive in this office. I think people understand we're loosing effectiveness in this office."

This week Senator Hatch is busy making network appearances over Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. His high-profile status and his connections to the President will make him a tough candidate to beat. But political pollster Dan Jones says the early challengers present an interesting dynamic for Hatch: There are conservative detractors here at home.

Dan Jones, Political Pollster: “Stem cell research and other things, some other issues. They feel he has abandoned the far right standard, if you will.”

But Hatch remains confident, holding enough clout that he could snag the powerful chair of the Senate Finance Committee if he's re-elected.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, (R) Utah: “Frankly, I’m in a position where I could help our state. I help our state’s future. I’ve never felt better. I’ve never felt more enthusiastic about it.”

Ashdown is enthusiastic too, but has a lot of hands to shake between now and a year from November to get his name out. Money-wise this race could be very expensive, upwards of 7 million dollars tops. And this time around both Ashdown and Urquhart could be on their own."

Whether Urquhart pushes Senator Hatch to a primary remains to be seen. Hatch's approval ratings are high right now, but hopefuls are quick to point out that anything can happen.

If Senator Hatch is reelected, he will have served 30 years in the US Senate, a Utah political record.

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