SALT LAKE CITY -- Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Dan Liljenquist have another Republican challenger on their hands in the race for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. Provo's Chris Herrod announced on Friday that he also is seeking the nomination.
"I absolutely hate the direction that we are going in as a nation," Herrod said at his campaign kickoff event at the state Capitol building. "I hate socialism."
Herrod, a state representative, told his supporters that policies being put in place by the current administration remind him of the government programs he witnessed when he was a BYU student studying abroad in the Soviet Union. He said his motivation to run comes from wanting to end those policies and protect the future for his children.
"We have got to get back to the basic principles that this nation is founded on," he said.
Herrod noted that his focus, if elected, would be on finding ways for the state to gain control of the lands within the state's boundaries that are owned by the federal government. Herrod argued if the state was allowed control of those public lands it would be able to provide energy to the nation and ensure that rural Utah's economy continues to grow for years to come.
He also hit on popular ideas among Republican candidates -- he would work to end federal departments such as the Department of Education and reform programs like Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program to give states greater control in these areas.
"That money should be block grants to the states," Herrod said. "We could run Medicaid much more efficiently than the federal government."
Herrod said he would not resign from his legislative post to run his campaign. The decision to stay in the Legislature could put him well behind the other candidates in the field as far as fundraising. State law prohibits legislators from fundraising while the Legislature is in session. Herrod said he will rely more on grassroots efforts to advance his campaign than on money. He said he will focus on his legislative job during the day and then work on his campaign in the evening.
Herrod appears to have the opposite strategy of Dan Liljenquist in how to handle a campaign against Hatch. Liljenquist has been quick in his stump speeches to say it was time for Hatch to retire; Herrod stayed away from even mentioning the longtime senator's name during his announcement speech. He only mentioned Hatch after being asked about him.
"I would hope people will come and vote for me because of who I am instead of voting against Sen. Hatch," Herrod said. "I do have a different emphasis and a different urgency than he does. I am willing to go against the establishment."
The Hatch campaign issued a statement welcoming Herrod to the race and also claimed Utahns understand it's important to keep Hatch in office because of his experience and leadership in Washington, D.C.
"Sen. Hatch welcomes Rep. Herrod to the race and looks forward to the dialogue that is inherently created during an election year," Dave Hansen, Hatch's campaign manager, said. "We are confident Utahns will see their opportunity to have a direct influence on solving some of the most critical fiscal issues of our time and choose to re-elect Sen. Hatch."
Herrod has served in the state House of Representatives since 2007. In the 2011 legislative session Herrod was one of the more outspoken critics of Utah's comprehensive immigration bill, House Bill 116, which creates a guest worker program, among other things. Herrod was one of the main supporters of Rep. Stephen Sandstrom's immigration bill that now requires law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of a person arrested for a felony or class A misdemeanor and a person booked into jail for a class B or class C misdemeanor, and that an officer attempt to verify the immigration status of a person detained on a class B or class C misdemeanor.