Senator Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) fight to hang on to his seat
may be hard enough, but if social media is any indication, the Republican may have gotten a short term boost.
The conversation on social media has been raging since Hatch
barely captured the 60% majority vote during his party's convention to stand
for election, forcing a runoff between him and former state senator Dan
Liljenquist. But a surprise
endorsement by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin may be enough to turn the
tide of chatter in the online community.
Over 1,000 references to Hatch on Twitter were recorded
between May 17 and May 23. As news of the Palin endorsement broke, the tenor of
conversation seems to be pivoting away from disappointment with Hatch--and ire
at the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, widely seen as the
standard bearer of Tea Party Republicans.
"Disappointment: Sarah Palin endorses entrenched
incumbent GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch" @TwitchyPolitics wrote May 22.
"I support @DanForUtah," @jmimac351 retweeted the
senator. "thank you @SarahPalinUSA for your endorsement on Greta Wire
The buyer's remorse of Sarah Palin's endorsement may have
dominated the chatter, but there was just as much anger against Hatch, who made
a pivot of his own during the Republican primary as he shifted away from being
one of the few moderates left in Congress--to near radical, campaigning on a
platform of simplifying the tax code, a pay down of the national debt,
opposition to President Obama's energy agenda and other issues popular with the
Tea Party crowd.
"Hatch did vote for $billions bailout for corps that
grew 'too big to fail' on his watch" @gonnaleaveaMark wrote May 23.
"@OrrinHatch goes from rebel to the system,"
@EthanLindseyMMR tweeted. "will that doom his reelection?"
Whether Orrin is a rebel is up for debate, but the anger at
his support of certain Obama-led policies--such as the proposed DREAM Act
granting a pathway to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants-- has been
enough to raise the hackles of Tea Party Republicans.
"Anyone who supports Obama has lost conservative
principles" @twyrch got straight to the point.
But far and away, the biggest ire is reserved not for
Hatch's platform, but his refusal to debate his Republican primary opponent.
"@OrrinHatch says he wants to punch people in the
mouth, but people asking for a debate are bullies?" @mbowler said.
According to the Deseret
News, the senator has long refused to debate Liljenquist since the results
of the convention in April. The refusal has forced the state senator to go on
the offensive launching a PR campaign and internet campaign (a search for
"Orrin Hatch" in Google News yields...an ad for Dan Liljenquist in the
upper right hand side of the screen).
For his part, Hatch insists that the two previous debates
and over a dozen joint appearances by Liljenquist and himself during the run-up
to the convention are good enough.
But Liljenquist is relentless in his pressure to force Hatch into the
limelight once more.
"Sen. Hatch needs to come out of hiding and give Utahns
the respect they deserve by agreeing to televised debates" Liljenquist
said in an interview with the News.
Whoever succeeds in capturing the party's nomination will
face Democratic state senator Scott Howell, a Blue Dog Democrat and former
member of the Democratic Leadership Council. But even if Liljenquist wins, voters will face a stark
contrast in candidates. The former
employee of Bain and Company--the same corporation Mitt Romney briefly headed
in the 1990s--sponsored bills eliminating tenure of state employees,
designating abortion as 'criminal homicide', and HB 477, which would have
exempted the text messages and voice mails of legislators from Utah's
Government Records Access and Management Act.
Story by Jack Winn