Senate race • Senator says his role on the Finance Committee is critical.
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Sen. Orrin Hatch told the Utah Legislature on Friday that the main reason he's running for re-election is to be chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, where he can help control spending and reduce the federal deficit.
"That committee is a committee that's got to do it," Hatch said, expressing optimism Republicans will take control of the Senate in this year's election. "If I'm chairman of that committee, I believe we have enough horses, we can turn a lot of this mess around."
Hatch is facing several challengers for his Senate seat including former state Sen. Dan Liljinquist and Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo. But he expressed confidence that he'd be elected to a seventh term.
"Just for your information," he said, "I'm going to win."
He said he wasn't going to give up "just because some people don't like someone who's been there 36 years."
In the House, there were some indications the audience wasn't a completely friendly one, with a few in the audience holding FreeomWorks brochures. Not far from Hatch was Rep. Dan McCay, Utah's director of FreedomWorks as well as rival Herrod.
FreedomWorks is an organization with strong tea party ties founded by U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey that has been actively trying to unseat Hatch.
But Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said the senator gave "a good speech" and praised him for his service to the state without expressly saying he supported Hatch.
Hatch said he would fight to keep Hill Air Force Base open and also tackled the issue of public lands.
"We have got to fight for our rights in Utah," he told the House. "We will develop energy for our country, which is needed so much right now."
He told legislators he appreciates their fights for more control over federal lands because "this country, from an energy standpoint, is in real trouble."
On illegal immigration, Hatch who was the original sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would allow U.S. naturalization for children brought to the country illegally if they attended college or joined the military said the issue is a "disaster."
"Nothing is really being done about it," Hatch said. But he praised states taking the initiative in the absence of federal action, although he didn't single out Utah's guest-worker law, HB116, which has been the subject of intense squabbling among Republicans.