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Washington • Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson said Monday she is considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2018, arguing that Utahns need a Democrat representing them in Washington to work across the aisle and adding that Sen. Orrin Hatch is no longer capable of bipartisanship efforts.
Hatch, Wilson said, used to be able to find common ground to solve American concerns but those days are "long past."
"Unfortunately, the Orrin Hatch of late is one of the greatest offenders," she added. "It's time for the return of respect and cooperation across party lines."
Wilson has formed an exploratory committee, which allows her to raise funds to consider a bid for the Senate under federal law.
Hatch, 83, and the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, has said he will run for an eighth term, though his office later reported the final decision has not been made. Several Republicans have been touted as possible contenders as well, including former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, World Trade Center of Utah CEO Derek Miller and Sutherland Institute President Boyd Matheson, a former aide to Sen. Mike Lee.
Wilson is, so far, the first prominent Utah Democrat to announce intentions to run. And given her at-large seat in Salt Lake County, she currently represents more than a third of Utahns.
"Washington clearly has gotten worse and I think most Utahns would agree with that," Wilson said Monday. "It's not just concern over the [President Donald] Trump administration, but also because Washington has become more and more partisan. Senator Hatch has become more and more partisan."
Utah's federal delegation has been all Republican since then-Rep. Jim Matheson decided not to seek re-election in 2014.
Utah has not had a Democratic U.S. Senator since 1977, when three-term Sen. Frank Moss left office after his defeat by Hatch.
Wilson is serving her second six-year term on the Salt Lake County Council after winning election in 2014.
She is a former chief of staff to the late Rep. Bill Orton. Her father is former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson, who unsuccessfully ran against Hatch in 1982.