The Webb/Pignanelli op-ed in the D-News had a big spread speculating about a rumored showdown between State Rep. Steve Urquhart and Sen. Orrin Hatch. In "Could Hatch finally be unseated in next election?", Frank Pignanelli declares:
We politicos knew that Urquhart harbored ambitions for Congress or state office (a requirement of legislative service). But we were unaware that gallons of testosterone are coursing through his veins — much needed to challenge Utah's 800-pound political gorilla.
Urquhart, a rural conservative with a high-tech focus, promises to be a real nightmare for Hatch. His oratory and political skills will help him capitalize on the animosity some Republican insiders have toward Hatch. (Could Hatch finally be unseated in next election?)
Not to be outdone, LaVarr Webb includes:
A smart and tenacious 40-year-old lawyer, Urquhart is very seriously thinking the unthinkable: He may take on one of the most powerful, entrenched and senior members of the U.S. Senate, the stern 71-year-old champion of all that is good in America, Orrin G. Hatch, a guy who is as close to political royalty as you get in Utah.
But Urquhart should not be dismissed as another fringe candidate angling to get his name in the paper. He's smart enough to have sensed some real chinks in the venerable Hatch's armor. He thinks Hatch's support is a mile wide but an inch deep; that Republican activists like Hatch but think 30 years for one guy is long enough; that the real go-to senator for Utah is Bob Bennett, not Hatch; that Hatch doesn't have strong personal relationships with very many local leaders because he doesn't listen well; and Hatch has lost touch with Utah as he's become a creature of Washington.
Unfortunately, Dave Hansen, Hatch's (current) campaign manager, appeared to pull out the standard playbook in response. First, he "dismisses those charges as silly," even though many Utahns are voicing the concerns that Urquhart identifies (including pretty much everyone I've heard from over the past couple of years). Second, Hansen attempts what amounts to a grade school-like chant of "We've got money! Yes we do. We got money! How about you?" as he notes that Hatch has $1.7 million in the bank. (Fortunately, it still takes more that just money to win!)
An Urquhart/Hatch matchup could be bigger and more important that Utah's '04 Gubernatorial race. I've known Steve for 2.5 years. He has incredible energy and passion for serving the public. He's ultra-articulate and exhibits great leadership skills. He's got a record of success in public service. He embraces technology and understands its impact on society and our economy. And most importantly, he has fantastic family support. If he decides to jump into the race, he has to be taken seriously.
If Utahns are ready for a change, Urquhart would be a great choice and would make Utah proud.