LONSBERRY: Romney shouldn't be Utah Senator

Mitt Romney is unfit to be a senator from Utah, and if Orrin Hatch has to run again to keep him from becoming one, he should.

I don't dislike Mitt, I just love Utah. And Utah ought to have a senator who is a Utahn at heart.

And who knows and loves the state and its people. Who can go into any town and find folks he knows, stories he can tell, connections he has made. It is a broad, rich and diverse state, made up of pioneers. People who, whether they came in 1847 or yesterday, have some grit and some values and a sense of adventure to match the mountains and the skies. Whether it's gay guys in the Avenues or Mormon stalwarts in Brigham, Polynesians or Mexicans, cowboys or clubbers, they are Utahns, and they deserve someone who gets them.

And to get them, you must know them.

And Mitt Romney doesn't.

One time I was at a funeral in Parley's Canyon and Orrin Hatch came in. He was one of the speakers. He stood up and at some length gave a talk about the deceased and his family and his impact over years. It was an intimate, comfortable recitation from a friend. 

That's what a United States senator ought to be.

And that's what Mitt Romney is not.

He is, if we are honest, a Mormon carpetbagger. Utah has been a landing pad for Romney when he's been in trouble, and a cash cow to milk when he's ambitious. When his eyes have been elsewhere, he has come to Utah for help getting there. And that's what this talk of a Senate campaign is. He wants to go to Washington, and the only way he can get there is on Utah's back.

Which makes this about Washington, not Utah.

And this state is too important to be sublimated to one man's ambition.

The tie, of course, is that he is Mormon royalty. He's got a good name and some good connections and Mormons are about the team and he's on the team so Mormons back Mitt.

The problem with that is that there are a lot of Mormons. And there are a lot of Mormons who are far more upfront about their faith than is Mitt. During their various campaigns, I learned a lot more about the religions of Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee than I did the religion of Mitt Romney. If you're looking for the candle-on-the-candlestick guy, that's not Mitt. Squeaky clean, moral rectitude, completely upright, sure. Say much about his religion and what it means to him, not so much.

Orrin Hatch has been the Mormon ambassador to Washington for 40 years. Any number of news stories have talked about his faith and its role in his life. Mormons have appreciated the PR.

Mitt Romney doesn't talk about his religion, and so the PR value is lost.

My point being, if conservative Republican Mormons are still a voting power in Utah -- something which is by no means guaranteed -- then Mitt is a poor choice. He doesn't know the state, he's lukewarm representing the religion, and he's not really a conservative.

And while he can walk down any street in Utah and have people know him, the odds are that he won't know any of them. Deer Valley is not exactly State Street Utah.

And neither is Mitt Romney.

Orrin Hatch is clearly impacted by age, and it would be best if he could retire now. It would be best if the people of Utah could choose from amongst the leaders of Utah a new senator to represent Utah. Many qualified names come to mind.

But Mitt Romney isn't one of them.

If Hatch has to run again to keep Romney out, then so be it. But the better, wiser choice would be for Utah to look to one of her own sons or daughters, instead of a man from Michigan and Massachusetts.

There should be an election, not a coronation. 

Utah is a state, not a footstool. 

Being a Utah senator is an honor, not a consolation prize. 

If Mitt Romney wants to be in the United States Senate, he should vye for a seat held by Elizabeth Warren or Ed Markey -- the Massachusetts seats -- not the seat held by Orrin Hatch.

That should go to a Utahn.

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