Orrin Hatch is one of the veteran Republicans in the Senate, and, if the GOP retakes the Senate in November as many expect, he will play a key role in that body. Hatch has always been regarded as a solid conservative, but this year there are activists who want to nominate someone else; someone who ostensibly is more conservative than the incumbent.
This strikes me as an amazingly stupid and destructive move. I can understand conservative activists trying to knock off the ladies from Maine, or maybe Richard Lugar. But Orrin Hatch? You’ve got to be kidding! Hatch is one of the most effective conservatives in Washington.
The American Conservative Union publishes yearly rankings of Senators and Congressmen, based on what the ACU believes to be the key votes in each year. The ACU rankings are an excellent benchmark to assess how our elected representatives are performing, and they show that Orrin Hatch has been, for a long time, one of the most conservative members of the Senate. You can see the ACU ratings here.
Senator Hatch scores a lifetime rating of 89.77%, which means that nine times out of ten he has voted in accordance with what the ACU deems to be the most conservative position. The tenth time, it may well be that Hatch was right and the ACU was wrong, but let’s forget that possibility and compare Senator Hatch with other undoubted conservatives. Hatch rates as more conservative than Dick Shelby, John McCain, Johnny Isakson, Chuck Grassley, Pat Roberts, Mitch McConnell, Thad Cochran, Mike Johanns, Dean Heller, John Hoeven, Rob Portman, Lindsay Graham, Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker, Kay Hutchison, and even John Thune. Those who have a more conservative lifetime rating than Hatch are mostly new Senators who haven’t cast very many votes.
I am personally acquainted with Orrin Hatch and John Thune, and can say with great confidence that both senators are stalwarts in the conservative cause. Both are at least as conservative as the most dedicated Tea Partier, if not more so. It would be an act of extraordinary stupidity for the GOP to fail to return Orrin Hatch to the Senate. If you live in Utah and plan on participating in the state’s caucuses next week, don’t shoot the GOP in the foot: vote for Senator Hatch, and return one of that body’s solidest conservatives for another term, in which he will play a key leadership role.