Salt Lake County Council member Jenny Wilson announced Monday she’ll be challenging seven-term Republican Orrin Hatch for U.S. Senate in 2018.
Wilson launched an exploratory committee earlier this year to consider a run against Hatch, 84, who’s been in office since Wilson was a teenager.
Through that process, the Democrat says she received overwhelming encouragement to run and is now ready to take her case to voters that it’s time for Hatch to retire.
“I ended up seeing, I think, less leadership from Orrin Hatch than we’ve seen in the past, and I really felt compelled to step up with a message of hope to restore some level of civility again in D.C. and some level of effectiveness,” she says of her decision.
A native Utahn, politics runs in Wilson’s family. She’s the daughter of former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson and was the first woman elected to the Salt Lake County Council in 2005. She’s currently in her second term there.
The last Democrat from Utah to be elected to the Senate was Frank Moss, who was later defeated by Orrin Hatch in 1976. Utah native Jenny Wilson hopes to break that streak.
Wilson believes Utahns would be willing to vote for a Democrat again if it meant having someone who would work across the aisle and serve as a stronger check to the Trump administration.
“I think people want party politics to be pushed aside, as I do, and want people to meet in the middle,” she says. “Each side bringing the strengths that they have through their respective parties, and then negotiating through things.”
Hatch has said he will seek an eighth term — if his and his wife’s health holds up. He also has plenty of money in his campaign chest — at more than $4 million — to fend off challengers.
Wilson says she will hold a formal campaign kick-off event next month.
Clarification: We previously stated that Frank Moss was defeated by Orrin Hatch in 1977. Hatch was elected in 1976, but took office in 1977.