Orrin Hatch is a moderate. The 82-year-old Senator has made a career in the ideological middle, starting well before the Establishment made moves to push to the left. He’s not the kind of guy Breitbart’s Steve Bannon would normally support, but the alternative appears to be Mitt Romney. In that scenario, Bannon would rather see Hatch stay on than have another Trump opponent in the Senate.
Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, is extremely popular in Utah. He would be almost impossible for Bannon to beat in the primary with anyone short of Karl Malone. Given the choice between a moderate who has been relatively supportive of President Trump or a moderate who has openly opposed Trump, Bannon will go with the former.
The question is whether or not Hatch even wants to stay in the Senate. His legacy is full. He’d be 89-years-old before leaving the Senate if he wins another term. There seems to be no reason for him to want to stay. According to Washington Examiner, there’s still hope for Bannon that Hatch might stay:
But, Hatch advisors recently reached out to Bannon and spoke with the Breitbart News executive chairman about 2018, signaling the senator could be having second thoughts about retiring. In Utah, Bannon is willing to put aside his war with McConnell and embrace Hatch if it means blocking Romney, a traditional Republican who has the gravitas to rally considerable opposition to Trump from the Right.
Beyond Boyd Matheson, the former chief of staff to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who recently announced he would not run for Senate, there have been few potential recruits in the Beehive State for Bannon to court. State Rep. Daniel McCay is one Republican who might fit the bill for Bannon, but it’s unclear if he has the interest or political chops to take on Romney.
There is really very little difference ideologically between Romney and Hatch. The difference is in their perspective on Trump, who Bannon wholeheartedly supports. It should make us all wonder what Bannon’s real motivations are. He claims to be opposing Mitch McConnell’s agenda, but the Senate Majority Leader is very close to Hatch. This move makes it seem much more likely that Bannon is simply trying to put die-hard Trump supporters in office regardless of their level of conservatism.