Despite his overwhelming financial advantage and sky high poll numbers, Sen. Orrin Hatch hasn't tempered his fundraising. Rather, he is ratcheting it up.
   In an urgently worded letter sent to more than 1,000 Utah Republicans last week, Hatch warned that Democrats are preparing a "relentless attack on Republicans, on conservatives, on the very principles we cherish."
   Hatch has $2.9 million in available cash, and his campaign manager Dave Hansen said that is more than enough to finish off this lopsided race against Democratic challenger Pete Ashdown. Hatch has more than 200 times the money Ashdown has raised, and recent polls show Hatch has more than a 30 percentage-point advantage.
   Still, Hatch sent the letter by priority mail asking for "a special contribution of $75."
   "We can't let the Democrats' media blitz go unchallenged," the letter states.
   The letter isn't about Utah politics, where Democrats don't have the resources to conduct such a media campaign.
   Hatch is channeling nationwide concern among Republicans who fear recent scandals and disapproval of the war in Iraq could help Democrats reclaim a majority in the House, if not in the Senate.
   "The future of our party, of our country hangs in the balance," the letter said.
   Hatch does send money to Republicans in tight races, such as Montana Sen. Conrad Burns,


but under the law he can only contribute $10,000 to another candidate.
   He has also recently donated $200,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
   The entry on his financial disclosure form lists the reason as "excess campaign funds."
   But the lion's share of what Hatch raises remains in his campaign coffers.
   The letter states the money will help in his re-election bid, though that sentence is only on the actual donation slip at the bottom of the sheet.
   It reads: "Orrin, you can count on me to help you get re-elected and keep our agenda from being hijacked by the Democrats."
   Concerns about Republican chances nationally "seem to be on the minds of a lot of people and that is why we focused on them in this letter," Hansen said.
   He brushed off questions about Hatch's need for more donations.
   "You never stop fundraising in a political campaign," Hansen said. "We will continue to raise money and it will be used for a good cause, either now or after the election."
   This letter was only the most recent direct mail solicitation aimed at accumulating smaller donations from a large number of former donors, Republican activists and prospective contributors.
   Earl and Anna Clare Shepherd of East Millcreek received a copy because Anna Clare was a delegate to the Salt Lake County Republican convention this year.
   But Hatch shouldn't expect the Shepherds to send a check anytime soon.
   Anna Clare Shepherd is irritated by the letter.
   "I find it most interesting that he is so desperate for money when he has so much already," she said.
   Anna Clare Shepherd calls herself a "moderate Republican," but more often than not she splits her ticket.
   She has voted for Hatch before, but not this time because she believes he is in "the pocket" of President Bush, whom she does not favor.
   She also feels Hatch hasn't fought hard enough against plans to store nuclear waste in Utah.
   Her husband continues to back the senator. Earl Shepherd said Hatch's rhetoric may be a bit dramatic, but he doesn't want to see Democrats in charge. He also appreciates Hatch's support for the Iraq war.
   He doesn't plan to donate, but he sees nothing out of the ordinary with the fundraising letter.
   "I think all politicians do a little hanky-panky to get a little money," he said.