Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, promoted two members of his staff recently, each with strong ties to Utah that inform their work on the Hill.
Utah’s senior senator named Rob Porter his new chief of staff at the beginning of June, after his previous chief left for the private sector.
Although Porter was born and raised in Boston, his parents and family hail from the Beehive State. Porter has made many trips to Utah and was a visiting political science scholar at Brigham Young University before becoming an attorney.
“It’s been really great because even though I’m not a native Utahn, I spent so much time there,” Porter said in a recent phone interview. “Working for and on behalf of the people of Utah has been something of a coming home for me.”
Porter has also worked for Utah’s junior Republican senator, Mike Lee. Porter was working at a law firm when Lee called him out of the blue to talk about an open position.
Porter’s friends and acquaintances had recommended him to Lee, and the two hit it off, which persuaded Porter to go to the Hill as Lee’s chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I discovered that I just absolutely loved it,” said Porter. “That being able to combine legal analysis and policy considerations as well as the political dynamics in virtually everything that I did on a daily basis was sort of a perfect combination of things.”
After two-and-a-half years at Lee’s office, Porter moved over to Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s office as general counsel. Then, less than a year later, in 2014, Hatch’s staff reached out to Porter about becoming the office’s deputy chief of staff.
“I was very, very happy working with Sen. Portman and really enjoyed my job. And it was a difficult decision to have to leave someone that I respected so much and from whom I was learning so much,” Porter said.
Within four months of joining Hatch’s team, Porter found himself running the office as chief of staff. But Porter said he’s received a lot of support from Hatch’s staff, whom he worked with during his time with Lee and Portman. “It’s been a very easy transition just because it is such an experienced staff,” Porter said.
The new chief of staff noted that when he was growing up and becoming interested in politics, Hatch “had long been one of my heroes,” making him even more excited to join the team.
Hatch’s new deputy legislative director, John Tanner, has also been a lifelong supporter of the Utah Republican.
Tanner transitioned to the deputy LD role at the beginning of June. He had served as Hatch’s legislative policy adviser since 2010 with a focus on natural resources, energy and infrastructure.
“It’d be hard to work for anybody else,” said Tanner. “It’s nice to be able to take the things that I’ve known all my life and be able to work on policy that will impact my home.”
Tanner is a native Utahn who attended Utah State University and once worked in Rep. Rob Bishop’s district office. The Utah Republican actually taught Tanner government and American history in high school. “It was kind of fun to continue my education with him,” Tanner said.
When Hatch approached Tanner about joining his staff, Tanner made the move from Utah to D.C. He enjoys working on the Hill and said being stationed in one place with more regular hours was a welcome change as his family grew.
Tanner and his wife Tara, also a Utah native and Utah State grad, have three kids between the ages of two and nine. The family enjoys spending a few weeks in Utah each year and visiting their extended family.
Porter will also be making lots of trips to Utah as Hatch’s top aide, which Porter is looking forward to because he enjoys traveling. He hopes to travel to Australia and New Zealand one day.
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