Utah's largest newspaper called on seven-term Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch to retire in a Christmas Day editorial.
"It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career," the Salt Lake Tribune editorialized. "If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him."
Hatch, first elected in 1976, has repeatedly delayed a decision on whether to seek another term next year. In the meantime, other Republicans, including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, have delayed getting into the race out of respect for the senior senator. If this is a deliberate attempt to freeze the senatorial field, the newspaper said, it "is basically a theft from the Utah electorate."
President Trump has urged Hatch, 83, to run for re-election. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, usually the bane of longtime Republican incumbents, is said to be considering a Hatch endorsement.
Hatch has emerged as a Trump loyalist in the Senate, while Romney was a leading Never Trump voice during the 2016 presidential campaign. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor with longstanding ties to Utah, was briefly considered for secretary of state after Trump won the presidency.
The Salt Lake Tribune called on Hatch to make this his last term after praising his role in passing the tax bill Trump recently signed into law, criticizing his "part in the dramatic dismantling of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments," and defending the decision to name Hatch "Utahan of the Year" for 2017.
The paper nevertheless described Hatch as evincing an "utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power," noting his 2012 promise not to run again ("Clearly, it was a lie.") and past admonitions against career politicians.
"What do you call a senator who's served in office for 18 years?" Hatch asked in a catchphrase of his maiden Senate campaign against three-term incumbent Sen. Frank Moss over 40 years ago. "You call him home."
The veteran senator also reportedly advised Capitol Hill interns in 1983 that politicians shouldn't stay in Washington too long.
Hatch currently chairs the Senate Finance Committee.