Sen. Orrin Hatch is hitting back at a scathing Salt Lake Tribune editorial being spread far and wide online in which the paper's editorial board calls on the 83-year-old to retire at the end of his term.
The Tribune selected the Republican senator as their “Utahn of the Year” over the weekend for his consequential role in helping pass the first sweeping rewrite of the nation’s tax code in over 30 years, and, more controversially, persuading President Donald Trump to scale back two national monuments in southern Utah.
But in a follow-up editorial, the paper’s opinion board said for all his influence, Hatch had become too pre-occupied with power and swapping political favors. They said Hatch should not seek re-election and allow someone new to represent the state.
“It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career,” the Tribune’s editorial board said. “If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him.”
On Tuesday, Hatch’s spokesman, Matt Whitlock, hit back.
"We all sincerely hope the members of the Salt Lake Tribune editorial board find joy this holiday season in something beyond baselessly attacking the service and integrity of someone who has given 40 years for the people, and served as one of the most effective lawmakers of all time," he said.
Hatch made a tongue-in-cheek Tweet after the paper's distinction, thanking them for the recognition. Though some on Twitter questioned whether he actually read past the headline.
— Orrin Hatch (@OrrinHatch) December 25, 2017
Utah’s senior senator has not made a final decision yet on running for an eighth term. Hatch is expected to make an official announcement before the Senate reconvenes in January.