Lawmakers, leaders react to news of Orrin Hatch's death

News of former Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch's death on Saturday spread quickly through the many dignitaries and other state and federal officials with whom Hatch had brushed shoulders over his many years of service.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said the news broke his heart. "Abby and I are so grateful for the opportunities we had to spend time with this incredible public servant. He was always so kind and generous with his time and wisdom. Utah mourns with the Hatch family."

Former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he first met Hatch in 1967 and offered condolences to the family. "He was a great man and a great Senator who represented Utah and America extremely well for 42 years. He was one of the great ones. He will be missed."

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined with others expressing sentiment late Saturday.

“Throughout his life, Sen. Hatch served with distinction, particularly during the 42 years he represented the state of Utah in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Hatch’s tireless efforts on behalf of his country have benefitted countless lives and his strength in promoting religious freedom will be a blessing to all people of faith for generations to come,” the church statement said, adding that Hatch “leaves a commendable legacy to his family and to his nation.”

"Orrin was a true warrior for our country, for liberty and for his beloved state of Utah," former President Donald Trump said in a statement. "He was as wise as he was kind, and as tough as he was smart — he loved America and his contributions to our country were tremendous. His legacy will surely live on through the many lives he impacted. May God bless Orrin Hatch."

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said few have impacted the Senate as much as Hatch had. "Our judiciary, our economy and our national character are more elevated and more secure thanks to his years of leadership."

Referring to Hatch as a "giant of the Senate and a pillar in Utah," Utah Sen. Mike Lee said he counted Hatch as a friend, mentor and example. "I saw countless times how his brilliant mind, quick wit, and care for his nation, his state, and his colleagues turned pernicious problems into clear paths forward."

"I don't think anyone in Utah politics will ever have such an outsized influence on national and global policy nor generate greater worldwide goodwill than Senator Orrin Hatch," Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a statement. "While most recognize how much Orrin Hatch championed Utah over decades of service, far fewer realize the incredible amount he was able to accomplish and benefit our state behind the scenes."

Utah Rep. John Curtis said Hatch "was one of Utah's best" and has fond memories of working with him on legislation. "I learned a lot from Orrin about how to work with broad coalitions and individuals with diverse views for the benefit of Utah."

Also calling Hatch a "close personal friend and mentor," Utah Rep. Chris Stewart said he will miss Hatch dearly. "His service to our state and country was unmatched, and for that we will be forever grateful."

"I pray the Hatch family is comforted at this time," said Utah Rep. Burgess Owens, also thanking Hatch for his service to the state.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall pointed to Hatch's work on the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Housing and Community Development Act as examples of his "devotion to public service and willingness to reach across party lines for important legislation."

Hatch "leaves a remarkable legacy" on Utah and the U.S., said Ben McAdams, a former U.S. representative and Salt Lake County Mayor. "When people talk about healing the divide in our country, they talk about Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy, how they disagreed, remained friends and found solutions."

Utah Senate President J. Stuart Adams also released a statement, saying Hatch was "a titan."

"He valued building consensus over political combat, devoting time and energy to work together to provide answers that would better our state. Sen. Hatch played an indispensable role in passing some of the most significant bipartisan achievements in recent history and was a passionate defender of religious liberty. He has done immeasurable good for our state and lived an amazing life," Adams said.

Gail Miller and Kim Wilson released a joint statement, saying, Hatch "was an incredible leader who exemplified the principles of bipartisanship, civility and respect. He represented not only his constituents, but our nation, as he helped to defend our precious constitution and reshape our federal judicial bench. He fought for freedom and worked tirelessly to ensure future generations would benefit from legislation that would reform taxes, improve health care, and promote technology and innovation, among many other issues."

U. President Taylor Randall tweeted that he was sad to learn of Hatch’s death Saturday, adding that the Orrin G. Hatch Center at the U. will continue to boast the late senator’s legacy.

Hatch’s “impact on the state, the nation and the University of Utah through the Orrin Hatch Foundation will be felt for generations,” U. officials said.

Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake branch said she reached out to Hatch many times for assistance and support on various issues, saying he “always made time to meet and talk with the NAACP.” Hatch, who was a lifetime member of the association, she said, supported the 2006 reauthorization of the highly influential Voting Rights Act, as well as other significant legislation.

"His ability to reach across the aisle defined his career and his character. He will be missed," former Arizona congressman Jeff Flake posted on Twitter, adding he was sad to hear of Hatch's death.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who also ran for president in 2020, remembered Hatch for his kindness despite their differences. "There were a lot of differences including party, height, age … you name it … but somehow we always looked for common ground," she tweeted.

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, referred to Hatch as "a cherished friend" in a tweet.

"Devastated to learn of the loss of Sen. Orrin Hatch. He was a cherished friend. I met my husband while he worked for the Senator," she said. "We will miss him dearly. He was a statesman that represented the best our country has to offer.