Chaffetz Mulls Bid for Hatch's Seat in Senate; Conservatives Laud Lawmaker for Fiscal Views

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Byline: Valerie Richardson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A veteran Utah Republican senator faces a primary challenge from a young conservative with the backing of the Club for Growth. Sound familiar?

It happened in 2010 with former Sen. Bob Bennett, and it looks increasingly like that the same scenario will play out in 2012, only this time with Sen. Orrin G. Hatch.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, says he's seriously considering making a bid for the Utah Republican nomination in 2012, when Mr. Hatch's sixth term expires.

I'm a definite maybe, said Mr. Chaffetz in a telephone interview with The Washington Times. I have been thinking about it, and I have increasing clarity about it. I'm definitely leaning toward it.

Mr. Chaffetz said he doesn't plan to announce his decision until after Labor Day, adding that, Elections are long enough already.

The 44-year-old Mr. Chaffetz may seem like a bit of an upstart - he's serving only his second House term after working previously as Gov. John Huntsman Jr.'s chief of staff - but he's already won plaudits from conservatives as part of the young cadre of budget-cutting fiscal hawks.

Even though nothing's official, Mr. Chaffetz has been all but endorsed by the Club for Growth, which played a crucial role in the defeat of Mr. Bennett in 2010. Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said Wednesday that if Mr. Chaffetz decides to run, he would have the full support of the Club for Growth PAC and our 55,000 members.

Last year, the Club for Growth spent nearly $200,000 on an anybody-but-Bennett campaign, more than all but one of Mr. Bennett's five primary challengers. Mr. Bennett ultimately finished third in the primary balloting at the Republican state convention.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Lee won the Senate seat after defeating businessman Tim Bridgewater in a runoff for the nomination.

Run, Jason, run! said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a statement. Congressman Chaffetz has been a pro-growth star since entering the House, and he's exactly the type of leader we need in the United States Senate. …