David and Goliath: Scott Howell takes on Sen. Hatch in senate race rematch

Scott Howell (center), Democratic senatorial candidate, is seeking to unseat 36-year incumbent Orrin Hatch. July 6, 2012 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Scott Howell is the Democratic candidate running against Sen. Orrin Hatch for U.S. Senate. This is the second time Howell has challenged the six-term incumbent. The first time was in 2000, and since then Howell has been looking forward to a rematch.

Howell, a former state senator, may have described his rematch against Hatch best, “We know this is a David and Goliath match up.”

David and Goliath

Hatch soundly defeated challenger Dan Liljenquist in the Republican primaries last month by 66 percent. This, coupled with Utah’s reputation for being a Republican stronghold, would seem to cast doubts on Howell’s chances. However, Hatch’s opponent doesn’t see it that way.

“I believe we’ll win,” he said. “(The campaign) has been blessed with moderate Republicans who want Hatch out.”

During a visit to Southern Utah earlier this month for the opening of the Utah Democratic Party Southern Utah Field Office, Howell said, “Orrin Hatch’s shelf life is expired.”

Hatch is 78 years old, and 36 years in office was too long, Howell said.

Due to Hatch’s prolonged stay in the Senate, Howell said his politics had become stagnant and his ear was given more to lobbyists instead of the people he represented.

“I’m going back there to represent Utah first,” he said.

The campaign was also attracting a “unique blend of citizens,” Howell noted, and added. “The conservatives in Utah aren’t all Republicans.”

Still, when it comes to campaign finances, Hatch may as well be Goliath. His campaign spent $10 million leading up to the primaries on June 26. Part of that money came from out-of-state interests and PACs, Howell said.

“I don’t want a campaign funded by PAC money,” he said. “You can’t be fair and objective when your money comes from PACs.”

If elected

Should Howell find himself sent to Washington he said he would limit his time there. “I will never serve more than two terms,” he said. “Twelve years is enough.”

Howell noted getting people out to vote was a challenge.

People are apathetic about their government, he said. With partisan politics creating a mountain of gridlock and yet another year without a budget, Howell said the apathy was understandable. If people want change however, they still need to vote.

“The best way to change the government is to elect people who listen,” he said. Howell added he would do what he could to remove the gridlock and get finally get a budget passed.

Howell also wants fiscal responsibility in the government. “I’m the Democrat and I’m saying no more spending,” he said.

Along with an approved budget with reduced spending, Howell said he wants to have government agencies analyzed and evaluated so they could be made more efficient and cost effective. He said he wasn’t for “bigger government, but smarter government. “

Part of reducing spending would include bringing an end to certain overseas military operations. “We can’t get out of these wars fast enough,” Howell said. “(They) are not sustainable.”

Crossing over into an issue of national security was the question of Iran. Howell said, unless there was a clear and defined threat to the interests of the United States and its people, Iran should be left alone. Otherwise, more lives and money would be sunk into a needless conflict. “We don’t have the money to go into Iran,” he said


While others call for a total repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Actpe, Howell does not support that opinion. Instead, he said sections of the Act needed to be overhauled with input from the Republicans.

“I was appalled there was no Republican input,” he said. “(The bill) was shoved down their throats.”

Elements that Howell said needed to be fixed – with the collaboration of the Republicans – dealt with the costs and availability of healthcare. It its current form, the ACA didn’t do enough to address the issue, he said.  The individual mandate, despite its being upheld as a tax by the U.S. Supreme Court, also needed to be retooled with better collaboration and compromise between Democrats and Republicans.

However, elements Howell supports include the health care exchange, allowing parents to keep their children on their health insurance, and the elimination of preexisting conditions as deciding factors in health insurance coverage.

Other issues Howell is addressing on the campaign trail include: education, jobs and the economy, tax reform, immigration, energy and nature, and guns and public safety. Howell’s positions on these issues can be found on Howell’s campaign website.

As for Howell’s background and political experience, he has recently retired from a 34-year-long career with IBM, and was elected to the state senate in 1990 and served for 10 years. During that time he was the senate minority leader for eight years. He is a graduate of the University of Utah, and attended Dixie State College on a scholarship for a time.

Howell joked he was in a “mixed marriage,” as his wife, Linda Howell, is a Republican. They have four sons – two of whom attended the University of Utah, while the other two went to Brigham Young University. Howell laughed when he said the split loyalties over politics and schools made some conversations at home “interesting.”

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright 2012 St. George News.


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