The American Conservative Union has given Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, an 100 percent rating for the second year in a row.
But not all conservatives are buying it – particularly those connected with the Tea Party.
Hatch campaign manager Dave Hansen welcomed the news that the Senator is among 23 Republicans to receive the honor for 2011. The Senator has an 89 percent lifetime ACU rating dating back to 1977 when he first took office.
“The ACU rating and others show where Sen. Hatch is always has been – a very strong fiscal and social conservative,” Hansen says. “We will see the great work he will do next year after the Republicans win control of the Senate and he is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.”
But FreedomWorks for America chief Russ Walker, who is leading the Super-PAC’s effort to oust Hatch, dismisses the ACU rating as meaningless.
Walker says Hatch has known that he faces a tough re-election campaign for some time now, especially in the wake of the defeat of former Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, during the 2010 midterms by his Tea Party-backed successor Sen. Mike Lee.
“He has a far worse record that Bob Bennett, far worse,” Walker says. “The difference is that he initiates bad legislation.”
Walker told Red Alert Politics that Hatch’s 76 percent rating from 2007, the year after his last election, shows that he is not a true conservative.
“The problem with politicians is that they swing to the right when it is election time,” Walker says. “You need to look at his entire 36-year record.”
Walker attributes Hatch’s 100 percent ACU rating to his alleged cribbing off of Sen. Lee’s votes since the latter became a Senator last year.
He claims that Hatch has a long record of expanding the size and scope of government and that he has voted to add $7.5 trillion to the national debt throughout his career.
“This guy voted for about half of our total national debt,” Walker says. “He voted for S-CHIP, Medicare Part D, and the TARP bailouts. He didn’t just vote for S-CHIP, he created it.
He also faults Hatch for supporting Bill Clinton’s nominations of Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg during the 1990s – justices who conservatives consider among the worst on the high court.
“If you look at Sen. Hatch’s entire voting record, such as on the auto bailout, the Fannie and Freddie bailout, he does not have the record of a fiscal conservative,” Walker says.
Hansen dismisses Walker’s arguments as election year politics.
“Half the stuff they make up are charges that are incorrect and distorted,” Hansen says.
He says the two Clinton nominees were probably the best that could have been had at the time.
“We otherwise would have had worse nominees,” Hansen says. “The simple fact here is that they pick out little things here or there that they try to charge the Senator with because they are trying to defeat him. Why they are trying to do so, I don’t know.”
Hansen defends S-CHIP saying that it began as a state program that enjoyed broad support from conservatives when it passed in 1997, but the Obama administration has transformed it into a federal program.