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Four years ago when Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch was running for his seventh term, he was in a formidable primary fight with fellow Republican Dan Liljenquist and said during a debate a Juan Diego High School that if re-elected, it would be his last term in Washington.

The mostly Republican crowd laughed. They remembered when Hatch was challenging Democratic incumbent Ted Moss and insisted at the time that Moss' 18 years in the Senate was long enough.

"What do you call a senator who has been in Washington 18 years?" Hatch's campaign famously said. "You call him home."

Hatch has now has been in Washington for 40 years with two more years to go before his current term ends.

And when the crowd laughed at his promise not to run again if elected in 2012, they must have known something.

Hatch's behavior over the past couple of years seems to be that of a politician who is more concerned with his base of voters than any policy considerations in Washington.

In fact, the senator identified as much as any as an establishment politician seems to have fallen in love with the tea party outsiders that are attempting to restructure the GOP.

He voted against the Dream Act, which he had at one time co-sponsored, saying the Democrats contaminated the original idea of education opportunities for children of undocumented residents with liberal supplements and made a once good bill evil.

Tea party purists love red meat attacks on Democrats and liberalism.

He voted against the Violence Against Women Act that he once supported, citing again the Democrats and their conspiratorial ways.

Those are not the actions of a statesman. Those are the actions of a politician wanting to run for re-election and, so, pandering to his base.

He also has hinted that as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, his position is too important to Utah to give it up to someone else.

And now, some Republican insiders from Utah have passed the word in certain groups that they have met with Hatch and have been asked to start raising money because he is going to run again — for an eighth term when he will be 84 years old — in 2018.

That certainly shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. It certainly wouldn't be a surprise to the Republican crowd that laughed at his promise not to run again during that debate four years ago.

It seems like promises to not run again if voters will give the candidate one more shot are so common that nobody cares when they are broken. And, at Juan Diego, they laughed.

And although Hatch has been at the job 22 years longer than he said during the first campaign should ever be allowed a senator, he'll probably be the odds-on favorite to win in 2018, meaning he would be granted an eighth term, covering 48 years and would be 90 when that term would end.

He may be going for Strom Thurmond's record. The South Carolina senator turned 100 while still serving in the Senate and was often caught falling asleep during committee meetings.

But there already are rumblings about some strong candidates who may be gearing up to run against Hatch, already Utah's longest serving senator, if he does go for another term.

Names that are frequently mentioned include former Utah governors Mike Leavitt and Jon Huntsman Jr., the first resigning in his third term to join the George W. Bush administration, the latter resigning shortly after his re-election to a second term to become President Barack Obama's ambassador to China.

Other prominently mentioned names include Thomas Wright, former state chairman of the Utah Republican Party and currently the Republican national committeeman from Utah; Josh Romney, son of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney; and Derek Miller, former chief of staff to Gov. Gary Herbert and currently president and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah.

Then, of course, there is Congressman Jason Chaffetz. He hasn't been shouting from the rooftops as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for nothing.

And on the Democratic side? Well, there goes that laughter again. —

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