(CNN) - Longtime Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah now has a challenger from the right.
Utah State Sen. Dan Liljenquist, who had been mulling a senate bid for months, announced his candidacy on Wednesday.
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"I'm running for the United States Senate because it's time," Liljenquist said in a video on his website. "It's time for a new generation of leaders to step up and take on the challenges of today."
The move comes as a relief for certain parts of Utah's conservative base. FreedomWorks, a national grassroots tea party group, has long been combing the state's crop of rising GOP stars in search of a candidate to take on Hatch, who's held his seat for six terms.
FreedomWorks was successful in helping oust former Republican Utah Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010. Bennett finished third at the state's GOP convention, while conservatives Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater advanced to the party primary, with Lee winning the GOP nod and then the general election.
FreedomWorks is after the same takedown again, this time with their focus on Hatch. A couple of potential contenders have emerged, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz, but they decided against the Senate bid.
"Our activists in Utah have repeatedly emphasized that they don't want another Republican in the Senate, they want a conservative. We believe that Senator Liljenquist will be one of numerous conservative candidates who will be stepping into the race to replace Senator Orrin Hatch, whose retirement is long overdue," said Jackie Bodnar, press secretary for FreedomWorks, in a statement.
Elected to the state senate in 2008, Liljenquist gained popularity for spearheading efforts to overhaul Utah's pension and Medicaid programs. Prior to entering public office, he worked for Bain Capital, the same firm previously headed by Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney.
Liljenquist told CNN in November he was supporting the former Massachusetts governor's White House bid, despite Romney's noted lack of appeal among many in the tea party base.
But Liljenquist won't count on Romney's support, as the presidential candidate endorsed Hatch earlier this year.
Hatch won re-election in 2006 with 63% of the vote.