George Pyle, editor of the ‘Salt Lake Tribune’ appeared on MSNBC on Wednesday to discuss the paper’s recent editorial naming Sen. Orrin Hatch "Utahn of the Year" — in a bad way. Pyle says the Utah Republican needs to keep his promise not to run for reelection, citing Hatch’s "kowtowing" to President Trump, his failure to pass DACA and CHIP, and his role in shrinking two national monuments in Utah.
"The last time he ran, we endorsed him to finish some things," Pyle explained. "He made it very clear that was going to be his final run, and now he is gearing up to run again, having stared down two generations of potential successors."
He also said that Mitt Romney is the most likely replacement for Hatch, commenting: "95-98% of the time, he would probably vote the same way Sen. Hatch would, but we would be spared the embarrassment of his sucking up to the president."
The SLT editorial denounced the Utah Republican’s "utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power" and called on him to honor his campaign promise to retire at the end of his term in 2018.
"These things are often misunderstood. So, lest our readers, or the honoree himself, get the wrong impression, let us repeat the idea behind The Salt Lake Tribune’s Utahn of the Year designation," the editorial says at the beginning. " … The Tribune has assigned the label to the Utahn who, over the past 12 months, has done the most. Has made the most news. Has had the biggest impact. For good or for ill."
"There was the news article on the front page that named Sen. Hatch Utahn of the Year, and the news article was very straightforward. It said this choice was based on who made the biggest news, made the most difference, did the most things that have an impact on the whole state of Utah," the editor, George Pyle, said. "On the editorial page, we added to that by trying to explain further that the fact that you did a lot of things that are important and impactful, doesn’t necessarily mean that all those things are good."
Pyle continued: "We don’t want him to resign, he is going to fill out the rest of his term, but he said six years ago that is going to be his last run. We want to hold him to that promised. When we endorsed him six years ago, among the things we thought he might accomplish would be the renewal of the [Childrens Health Insurance Program], which he and his then-friend Ted Kennedy were responsible for, much to their credit."
"He had been a leader on such things like the DREAMers, the DACA, helping people who came to the U.S. illegally as children, amending the law so that they could stay. President Obama signed an executive order to that effect, President Trump has suspended it, arguing with some ground that that should be an act of Congress, it shouldn’t be an executive order. We had some faith that over the last six years, Sen. Hatch would use what he describes as his great influence and experience to solve those problems, and nothing has happened," he concluded.
Pyle also speculated about the "two generations of potential successors" Hatch had displaced by remaining in the Senate for 42 years: "He is resting on his laurels, he thinks this seat belongs to him, rather than to the people of Utah."
"He ran saying he is the influential guy in the Senate, we don’t want to lose his power. Two of the things he said he would do with his power were CHIP and DACA, and he has done neither, there is no particular reason to believe he needs another six years to do those things."
"Anyone who would replace him from the middle of the Republican Party would probably vote the same way, but would be less in a position of having gone back to his word, and would probably be rather less embarrassing in the way he is kowtowing to the president," Pyle said.
Pyle speculates: "The possible alternative to Sen. Hatch, either as a challenger or a successor if the senator does step aside, is Mitt Romney. 95-98% of the time, he would probably vote the same way Sen. Hatch would, but we would be spared the embarrassment of his sucking up to the president."