Utah Republican Boyd Matheson, a former chief of staff to Sen. Mike Lee, is strongly considering a 2018 challenge to veteran GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch – the latest in a string of potential primaries against sitting Republican senators.
Matheson, a prominent conservative who currently runs the Salt Lake City-based Sutherland Institute think tank, would be a formidable contender should he decide to run. Matheson traveled to Washington last week, where he met with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Citizens United President David Bossie. Both have emerged as leaders of an intensifying conservative campaign to oust Republican incumbents and replace them with bomb-throwing outsiders – an effort that is aimed at undermining Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
In a Monday interview, Matheson said he is open to running regardless of whether Hatch, 83, seeks reelection. Those close to the senator, who has been serving since 1977, expect him to make a final decision shortly after the New Year. The 51-year-old Matheson cast the incumbent as a figure of the past, and the would-be candidate made clear in an interview that he planned to tap into a growing frustration with the party’s failure to advance a legislative agenda.
“The one thing that’s uniting people across the spectrum is frustration with the lack of progress in Congress,” Matheson said. “They’re kind of functioning in this status quo universe.”