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Orrin Hatch retains seat for seventh term in Senate

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 7 2012 12:50 a.m. MST

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks to supporters at the Hilton  in Salt Lake City  Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks to supporters at the Hilton in Salt Lake City Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Orrin Hatch said his seventh term in the U.S. Senate would be his last, and he easily retained his seat in the Senate, grabbing 65 percent of the vote to challenger Scott Howell's 30 percent.

"I'm grateful for this wonderful state," Hatch said. "It means everything to me. As long as I am U.S. senator, I'll do the very best job that I possibly can."

Hatch tied his campaign to Mitt Romney, saying numerous times that Romney needed him to get things done in Washington. Hatch also often talked about becoming chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.

But with Barack Obama winning the presidential race, and Democrats seemingly able to hold onto their control of the Senate, Hatch and Utah won't be in the position he had banked on.

On election night, those factors did not deter him.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks at the Utah Republican Party results party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (Ben Brewer, Deseret News) Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks at the Utah Republican Party results party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (Ben Brewer, Deseret News)

"Nothing happens on that committee without me," he said. "I may not chair it, I may not set the agenda, but they know I am there."

Hatch also insisted he can remain effective even with Democrats in control and Obama at the presidential helm.

"I think there are many things I can do," he said. "I have been effective in the minority. That has never stopped me from getting things done."

He went onto say, however, that some of his ability to work with Obama depends on the White House leader.

"If Obama wins this, he will have all the support I can give him. I want to help the president," he said. "If he wakes up and starts to perform like he is supposed to, he will have a lot of support from me."

In Howell's concession speech, he continued to blast Republicans.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks at the Utah Republican Party results party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (Ben Brewer, Deseret News) Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks at the Utah Republican Party results party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (Ben Brewer, Deseret News)

"The Republican Party doesn't have the corner on Utah values," he said. "Starting tonight, the Democrats should demand fiscal responsibility."

Hatch spent a whopping $12.1 million to get himself re-elected, more than any candidate in Utah history. Howell raised less than $400,000.

After conservative state delegates dumped Sen. Bob Bennett at the state Republican Party convention in 2010, Hatch made an effort to woo tea party members. He succeeded in recruiting moderate voters to neighborhood caucus meetings in March.

Still, convention delegates narrowly forced him into a primary election for the first time since he initially ran for office in 1976. Hatch easily bested former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist in the runoff.

Howell jabbed at Hatch's 36 years in the Senate, even taking a shot at the senator's age. Howell contended not only is Hatch out of touch with modern America but that he could die in office.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks to supporters at the Hilton  in Salt Lake City  Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks to supporters at the Hilton in Salt Lake City Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Howell said the Founding Fathers never intended for someone to stay in public service for 42 years.

"We continue to elect the very same people, and we wonder why we get the same results," he said during the campaign. "We cannot perpetuate a seniority system that generates this 10 percent approval" rating of Congress.

Hatch is the 23rd longest serving senator in U.S. history and the Senate's third most senior member. He defeated Howell in 2000 by a 2-to-1 margin.

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