<strong>LOGAN—</strong> The contender for the Republican nomination for U.S. senator Dan Liljenquist hosted a town hall and family night Monday evening, taking questions about his campaign and discussing views with supporters and interested parties on the Old Courthouse lawn.
Liljenquist said his campaign was happy with the turnout. About one hundred supporters and interested parties turned out, setting up lawn chairs and lining up at the tables to get “Dan” painted on their faces. Volunteers held games like USA bingo for kids.
“We’re delighted with the support in Cache Valley,” Liljenquist said. “We feel like we’ve got signs going up all over. We’ve got a great turnout tonight.”
In his speech, Liljenquist said power in the government has gone out of balance toward the executive branch, and repeatedly cited bureaucratic programs as having un-checked power over the states. He told the crowd he would work to put power back in the hands of the states and Congress at the same time.
Liljenquist also challenged incumbent Orrin Hatch to a series of eight debates before the June 26 state primary, a tactic he said he takes from Hatch himself. Hatch challenged Frank Moss to the same number of debates when he ran against him in 1976. Liljenquist said he plans to debate a cardboard cutout of Hatch in Salt Lake City Thursday night, playing clips from Hatch’s old speeches, if Hatch refuses.
“This is not the Orrin Hatch of 36 years ago, folks,” Liljenquist said.
Liljenquist said Hatch has two arguments he often uses in his campaign. One of those arguments is he should be elected because he will be chair of the Senate finance committee if the Republicans take control of the Senate.
“Well I’m running because he could be chair of the Senate finance committee,” Liljenquist said.
Liljenquist said another western conservative, Mike Crapo of Idaho, would chair the finance committee if Hatch loses the election.
“In any environment you go into, you’ve got to build the coalitions with the people and work to build the friendships and work to build the relationships to move things forward,” Liljenquist said.
A challenge Liljenquist said his campaign faces in the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. senator against a 36-year incumbent is name recognition.
“With a name like Liljenquist, you have a lot of educating to do, but it’s been a lot of fun,” he said.
Liljenquist said the U.S. senate is changing, and new relationships need to be built as a crop of freshman senators come to Washington, D.C.
From adults with small children to senior citizens, the crowd gathered to hear state senator Lyle Hillyard introduce Liljenquist. Hillyard said he has been impressed with Liljenquist since he came to the state legislature in 2008 as a freshman senator.
“I worked with Dan very closely as we worked with budgets, and I don’t know a brighter guy who can look at numbers, look at things and understand how it all applies,” Hillyard said.
Shellie Giddings, one of the Cache Valley organizers for Liljenquist’s campaign, said her kids are enthusiastic volunteers. Although Liljenquist won’t be at more events before the June 26 state primary, Giddings plans to organize more “honk and waves” like the one at the town hall. This is in addition to knocking on doors to tell people about Liljenquist’s campaign, of course.
“It’s a lot of door knocking,” Giddings said.