(CNN) - The Salt Lake Tribune, the city's largest newspaper, is urging Utah Republican delegates to send Sen. Bob Bennett "back to Washington."
The three-term senator is fighting for his political life as he battles for re-election this year. His predicament: because the Utah GOP uses a convention to help determine its nominee, Bennett might not even make it to a June primary. To advance to that primary, Bennett needs to win at least 40 percent of the vote of the 3,500 delegates attending the Utah GOP convention this Saturday. A primary will be avoided if any candidate secures 60 percent of the delegates' vote.
Two polls released earlier this week indicate that 50 percent of Utah voters see Sen. Bob Bennett in a favorable light, and that nearly four in ten likely Republican primary voters say they back Bennnet. But the senator doesn't fare as well in two other recent surveys of Republican convention delegates.
While it's a tough year for any incumbent running for re-election, the conservative Bennett upset many on the right with his vote in 2007 supporting President George W. Bush's plan for a pathway for citizenship for some illegal immigrants, and his 2008 vote in favor of the federal bailout of large banks and financial institutions. The fiscally conservative Club for Growth has been actively working to defeat Bennett, as have some national and local Tea Party organizations.
Bennett is spending this week back home in Utah, making his case to convention delegates that his experience and seniority in Congress matter.
And the Salt Lake Tribune agrees.
"Incumbents should not necessarily serve forever. But you should have a good reason for kicking them out. That's lacking here," says the newspaper, in an editorial in its Thursday edition. "Utah has wisely invested 18 years in Bob Bennett, and that investment is paying off. Delegates need to set their arch-conservative ideologies aside, and send Bennett back to Washington. It's time to cash in, not cash out."
In a state overwhelmingly dominated by the Republican party, whoever wins the party's nomination will be considered the overwhelming favorite in November's general election.
Updated: 11:33 a.m.
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn