Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz appears more likely than ever to launch a Republican primary challenge to Sen. Orrin Hatch.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday that “five Utah politicos” said the second-term Congressman had contacted them in recent weeks to say he will indeed challenge Hatch. The newspaper also quoted Chaffetz, who declined to make it official and said he won’t announce until after Labor Day. But he hinted he is indeed moving in that direction.
“I have an increasing clarity,” Chaffetz said. “Until I walk up to the microphone to make an announcement, it’s not official. But it’s no secret I’ve been thinking about this and I’ve been gravitating in that direction.”
Following the defeat last year of Sen. Bob Bennett at the Republican convention, Hatch immediately began shoring up support among convention delegates and working to build an intimidating war chest.
Hatch raised $780,000 in the first quarter and had nearly $3 million as of March 31. Chaffetz raised $112,000 in the first three months of the year and ended March with less than $200,000 in the bank.
But Chaffetz, a former chief of staff to former Gov. Jon Huntsman, has experience knocking off Republican opponents. In his first bid for Congress, Chaffetz defeated six-term Rep. Chris Cannon in the 2008 GOP primary.