Hatch, Republicans’ longest-serving senator, dies at 88

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Orrin Hatch, the man who served in the Senate for 42 years and once briefly sought the Republican nomination for president, died Saturday evening.

According to a press release from the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, the late Senator died peacefully while surrounded by loved ones in Salt Lake City, Utah, the state he represented as a senator from 1977-2019.

“A man of wisdom, kindness, character, and compassion, Orrin G. Hatch was everything a United States Senator should be,” A. Scott Anderson, Chairman of the Hatch Foundation, said. “He exemplified a generation of lawmakers brought up on the principles of comity and compromise, and he embodied those principles better than anyone. In a nation divided, Orrin Hatch helped show us a better way by forging meaningful friendships on both sides of the aisle. Today, more than ever, we would do well to follow his example. May we honor Orrin’s memory by living as he lived—committed to our country, to our principles, and to each other.”

Hatch’s 42 years in the Senate make him the longest-serving Republican in that party’s history, and sixth longest overall. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was a Republican who spent more than 47 years in the senate, but 10 of those years occurred when Thurmond was still a Democrat.

Four other Democrats either served or are continuing to serve longer terms: Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia (51 years); Daniel Inouye of Hawaii (49 years); Patrick Leahy of Vermont (47 years and counting); and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts (46 years).

Leahy was among the public figures to express condolences.

“When Orrin and I led the Judiciary Committee, we sometimes had profound and difficult policy differences,” Leahy tweeted, “but we found ways to break the ice, as when we traded ties—a Jerry Garcia tie, for a Rush Limbaugh one. Rest In Peace Orrin, and all best wishes to the Hatch family.”

Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the two longest-tenured Republicans currently in the Senate, also expressed their sympathy.


At the time of this writing, President Joe Biden, who served in the Senate from 1973-2009 and was for 32 years Hatch’s senatorial colleague, had not yet issued a statement.

Hatch’s career in the Senate spanned seven presidencies. He began during the Carter Administration and retired during then-President Trump’s time in office.

He was known for his ability to reach across the aisle to garner the support necessary to move bills forward and held the distinction of having sponsored or cosponsored more than 750 bills that became law.

In 2000, Hatch briefly sought his party’s nomination for the presidency; but after a poor showing in Iowa, he withdrew his nomination.

“From tax and trade to religious liberty and healthcare, few legislators have had a greater impact on American life than Orrin Hatch,” Matt Sandgren, executive director of the Hatch Foundation, said. “He was a profoundly positive influence in the lives of those he served, whether they were the constituents he helped over four decades of casework, the hundreds of interns he sponsored in both Utah and DC, or the robust network of Hatch staffers who carry on his legacy to this day. Senator Hatch touched the hearts of countless individuals, and I know I speak for all of them when I say he will be dearly missed.”

Hatch, a Mormon, is survived by his wife, Elaine, and their six children.