With his friend and three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali at his side, Sen. Orrin Hatch claimed an expected victory Tuesday night before a jubilant crowd at Little America Hotel.
The incumbent senator trounced Democratic challenger Brian Moss, leading a Republican charge to fill most of the state's top elected positions. In the end, Hatch grabbed 67 porcent of the vote compared to Moss' 32 percent with almost one percent going to Socialist Workers Party Candidate William M. Arth."I am really humbled by it. It's a bigger win than I thought it would be," Hatch told balloon-waving, cheering supporters. "I don't know when I've been in a better position to do more for this state."
Ali's surprise grandstand appearance with Hatch on Tuesday added momentarily dazzle to a lackluster campaign, which many considered a "grudge match" for Moss. His father, Frank E. Moss, had been unexpectedly unseated by Hatch in 1976.
But in claiming a third six-year term, Hatch didn't throw any punches at either Moss. He, in fact, even referred to Brian Moss as a "friend."
"I want you to know that I feel very deeply about Brian Moss. He's an articulate candidate who gave me all the trouble I'd care to have. I don't think he was supported by the National Democratic Party the way he should have been."
Moss, who termed the campaign "a gentlemanly battle," expressed disappointment that his national party didn't give him a cent of support.
"It seems like I ran into a bunch of bean counters who said `the polls say this and that and this guy is out entirely, so we aren't even going to give him token support.'
"But we had an excellent campaign in terms of what we did and what we had," he told the Deseret News. "Our problem is that we didn't really have enough money to be really competitive out there. When you are outraised and outspent 30-1, it's almost an impossibility."
Despite the defeat, the 44-year-old Salt Lake businessman was optimistic about his future in public life.
"Just because I wasn't successful this time doesn't mean that I will write politics off entirely. I am not plotting a new campaign at this stage, but I am certainly disposed to stay in politics and stay involved."
A humble and tired Hatch, flanked by his entire family and toting his 5-month-old grandson, Ethan, expressed relief that the campaign was finally over.
"There's nothing that makes your life more miserable than being in a campaign. But it's a necessary process," the 54-year-old senator said. "I think you have to be a fairly strong person to run for a major national office like U.S. senator.
"I give anyone credit who throws his hat into the ring and tries to do the best he can."
Hatch said Utah voters gave him an overwhelmingly vote of confidence because people are paying attention to his and Sen. Jake Garn's accomplishments.
"They know we are a good team and work well together; we like each other, and we both are fighting our hearts out for Utah, as well as the country," he said. "People in Utah realize that both of us are against government controlling every aspect of our lives and we try to curtail that. Both of us are strong supporters of balanced budget constitutional amendment, and so many other things Utahns believe in.
"Our values are the same; our politics are primarily the same as most people in Utah, and I think citizens admire the fact that both of us stand up for what we believe regularly - even when it's tough to do so."