A new poll shows an overwhelming majority of Utahns want Republican Sen. Orrin Hatchto retire after his current term ends in 2019.
The poll was conducted by the Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.
The poll showed that 78 percent of Utahns want Hatch to retire after his current term, which Hatch initially said he would do after being re-elected in 2012.
But the 83-year-old Hatch, who serves as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate President Pro Tempore, has since said he is reconsidering running for another term given the election of President Donald Trump and the possibility of rewriting the tax code.
In addition, 57 percent of Utahns said Hatch should “definitely not” run for re-election.
“Even though he’s in a powerful position — chairman of the [Senate] Finance Committee, [former] longtime chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senate president pro tem — the voters are indicating they’re ready for a change,” said Tim Chambless, associate professor of political science at the University of Utah. “If I were the campaign manager for Senator Hatch, I’d be very concerned.”
Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock dismissed the results of the poll.
“In an era of unprecedented gridlock and division, Senator Hatch is leveraging his leadership and successful legislating experience to encourage civility, bipartisanship, and collaboration among his colleagues,” Whitlock said.
The poll also showed that 48 percent of Utahns disapprove of Hatch’s job performance and 46 percent approve.
So far, Hatch only has one Democratic challenger in Salt Lake City Councilwoman Jenny Wilson.
Hatch has emerged as an unlikely ally of the Trump administration and was the designated survivor during Trump’s inauguration.
Hatch has said he will make his announcement about whether he will run for re-election later this year.