Hatch may emerge senior GOP senator

Nov. 10, 2008 at 3:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is in line to become the Senate's senior Republican if several likely scenarios play out, analysts say.

Hatch, first elected in 1976, could take the GOP seniority reins if Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, loses his too-close-to-call election or resigns from the Senate due to his recent felony conviction. And the second-most senior Republican, Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana, could be appointed U.S. Secretary of State, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

That would leave Hatch as the most senior GOP senator, which would have no concrete benefits but could add prestige to Utah's standing in the Congress, said a political analyst.

"Hatch has kind of reinforced what a Republican power he is in D.C. with the way he raised money and worked during the election," Kirk Jowers, head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, told the newspaper. "Being the most senior Republican would add to that prestige."

Hatch told the Tribune is wasn't appropriate to speculate, but added, "As for overall seniority in the Senate, it clearly has its advantages and commands a certain amount of respect that would be beneficial to a member's state."

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