Sen. Jon Kyl announced his support for Sen. Orrin Hatch earlier this month — Hatch, running for his seventh term as U.S. senator for Utah, also garnered support from Republican presidential candidate and former governor, Mitt Romney.
Sen. Kyl’s recent backing of Hatch adds to the likelihood the six-term senator will be tapped on the shoulder if presidential-hopeful Romney wins the general election this November. As a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch clouts significant influence in holding up or passing tax code legislation.
“I hope Utahns understand how much we are relying on you to guide the Committee next year,” Kyl said.
Only one other current Republican U.S. senator, Sen. Richard Lugar for Indiana, can boast serving as long as six terms. If Republicans take over the Senate in the upcoming elections this year, Hatch reigns in senority and is likely to clinch the chairman seat in the Senate Finance Committee.
The Utah senator voted against President Obama’s budget proposal, saying it undermines efforts to curb the national debt and fails to confront the issue of excessive government spending. The president’s budget failed to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
“The president’s proposal failed 99 to zero, because it predictably taxed too much, spent too much and borrowed too much,” Hatch said last week in a press release.
Hatch’s conservative views have earned him a nod from Romney, the likely Republican front runner in the 2012 Presidential Election.
“If I am elected president, I’ll need Orrin Hatch on my team. His leadership and clout in the Senate will be critical to less government and more fiscal restraint,” Romney said in a statement released by the senator’s campaign.
Hatch fell short of the 60 percent delagate vote required to secure the nomination in the November general elections. He now faces a battle in the primary election June 26 alongside Republican Dan Liljenquist, former Utah state senator. This is the first time Sen. Hatch has been called to the primaries since he first took office in 1979.
The victor between Hatch and Liljenquist moves on to challenge Democratic candidate Scott Howell, also a former Utah state senator.
Former Utah state senator Howell prepares to battle Hatch this summer in hopes of becoming the first Democratic U.S. senator for Utah in decades.
“You cannot be a part-time candidate when you’re running against Orrin Hatch,” Howell said before knowing the Utah Republican convention outcome.