Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Friday he would not retire in 2012, when he next faces reelection, despite a virulent anti-incumbent attitude in his state and around the country.

Hatch's counterpart, Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), was swept off this fall's primary ballot last weekend when Utah's state GOP convention selected two political newcomers to run for the seat instead. Bennett is a three-term incumbent.

ADVERTISEMENT
“For me, this is public service. So I will run," Hatch told the conservative National Review. "I will not retire, as long as I feel good. I have made a commitment to a lifetime of service. I could have made a lot more money if I stayed with the law firm back in 1976.” 

Freshman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has made it known that he is pondering a primary challenge against Hatch, who has been in the Senate since 1977.

Hatch acknowledged it would be tough to fend off a primary challenge. National Review reported that the senior senator received a smattering of boos during his appearance at the state convention last weekend.

“The delegates are so doggone mad,” he said. “They’re angry. They want to throw everybody out. Even though they admit you’re a good senator, that’s what they want.” 

Hatch, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, defended his conservative credentials. Here's what the Review wrote:

“We all want conservatives to be elected,” Hatch continues. “But they may not be as conservative as Jim DeMint,” South Carolina’s junior senator. And even by this measure, Hatch says, he’s conservative enough: “I’ve out-conservatived him for 34 years. I’ve rated 90 percent [from the American Conservative Union] for my entire career.”