Stokes says Hatch's main argument, that his 30+ years of experience in Washington is invaluable, will be his downfall.
Stokes, who has known the 77-year-old Hatch for three decades, believes that experience is a nearly insurmountable liability with a Utah GOP electorate that’s turned hard against Washington and the Republican establishment.
“They see there are problems with the federal government and federal budget, and they are asking … why, if the federal budget is in trouble, do I want someone to go back who in their mind contributed to it?” Stokes said in an interview. He was referring to GOP voters who will caucus in mid-March to choose delegates for the April nominating convention.
“Although in any other circumstance and any other time, running on seniority and your power would be something that you would want to play up,” Stokes added, “in this particular economic time and situation in Washington, D.C., that’s actually working against you with delegates.”
Stokes stressed that he’s not opposing Hatch’s bid and that he has great affection for the senior senator. But he said he’s provided an “honest analysis” to “hundreds and hundreds” of Utah political types and voters only when they ask him about the race, even at church on Sunday. The only reason he told a reporter about his views, he said, was to kill false rumors that he was actively working to defeat Hatch in the primary.