UPDATE: Sen. Hatch give a non-denial denial.
David Hansen, Hatch's campaign manager, said Hatch has not received a call from the White House to fill the Cabinet spot.
"It is not going to happen," Hansen said.
Staffers in Hatch's Senate office said they knew nothing of a potential job switch. Hatch declined any media interviews Monday.
Hatch has said he doesn't believe the president would nominate him for the position but he also noted that he wouldn't turn down the president if he asked.
If you haven't been out of it this morning, by now you have surely heard that Alberto Gonzales finally resigned of Attorney General (he called Bush on Friday, Bush asked him to think about it, and then they announced on Monday, during which time they lied to reporters about it, naturally).
What you might have missed is the next phase in this saga... who is going to replace Gonzo? The rumor mill has DHS head Michael Chertoff, a Bush loyalist who was appointed to the DOJ in 2001, then to the 3rd circuit, and gave it up to head DHS. And besides the obvious terrible management of the agency during Katrina, Chertoff also has a number of other scandals under his watch waiting to surface.
With Chertoff hearings looking to be a gold-mine for Democrats in Congress, a smart White House would pick someone who was equally loyal and partisan but less likely to have contentious/embarrassing hearings. Enter Sen. Orrin Hatch:
Many Democrats — and some Republicans — had been calling for Gonzales' resignation for months based on his involvement, or lack thereof, of the Justice Department's firing of eight U.S. attorneys and the administration's policies on warrant-less wiretapping.
Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said on "Meet the Press" April 1 that Hatch was "actively running" to be Gonzales' replacement to which Hatch replied, "Oh come on, Pat." Hatch was just re-elected to another six-year Senate term in the 2006 election.
Hatch has repeatedly sided with the Justice Department and Gonzales' role as attorney general. He said in a statement issued Monday that Gonzales "has been the president's strong right arm in fighting terrorists using the tools of law enforcement, and he helped successfully protect the American homeland during his tenure."
"I hope that history will remember Attorney General Gonzales for his honorable service to his country, rather than for the absurd political theater to which some critics have subjected him," Hatch said in a statement. "He has overseen the Department of Justice's efforts to protect children from Internet predators, to combat human trafficking, and to prevent the spread of meth in our communities."
Hatch played coy in April, but now he is probably trying to add his name to the rumor mill and placing calls into the White House. One would think that a fellow Senator would be harder for Democratic Senators to vote against, especially one that had been there so long.
It would be great to have the GOP have to defend another open seat, and to watch Utah GOPers scramble to out-conservative each other for the spot. I have no illusions about a Democrat's chances in the inevitable election, but beating an 2 to 4-year Senator is a lot easier than beating 40 year Senator for life. That means better quality candidates would emerge on the Democratic side. Not to say that our last two were bad, but more folks would consider running and more folks would be willing to donate.