After Lugar, eyes turn toward Hatch in Utah
May 9th, 2012
06:11 PM ET
6 years ago

After Lugar, eyes turn toward Hatch in Utah

(CNN) - While Richard Mourdock knocked out the Senate's most senior Republican in Tuesday's Indiana primary, a GOP candidate in Utah is hoping to do the same to the second longest-serving Senate Republican: Orrin Hatch.

Dan Liljenquist, the former state senator challenging Hatch, quickly fired out a statement Tuesday night, praising Mourdock's win and pushing for a repeat for conservative Republicans in Utah's GOP primary this June.

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"Our ever-increasing federal budget deficit and exploding national debt are the result of Senators like Orrin Hatch and Dick Lugar who were more concerned with implementing their pet projects than sound fiscal governance," Liljenquist said in a statement.

Hatch and Lugar are both serving a sixth term in the Senate. While they were sworn in on the same day-January 3, 1977-Lugar took his oath three senators ahead of Hatch, qualifying Lugar as the most senior Republican.

"Orrin Hatch went to Washington nearly four decades ago and became part of the problem. It is time that we hold him accountable for the things that have happened under his watch," Liljenquist said.

While the Utah primary won't come until June 26, the Senate race has long been underway. The state held its caucuses in March, electing 4,000 delegates to the party convention in April. Hatch won the delegate race at the convention but failed by one percentage point to capture the 60% needed to skip a primary and move on to the general.

He'll now face off against Liljenquist, the candidate who came in second place. Liljenquist's delegate haul at the convention re-energized his supporters in the state, leading some to believe he may pose a threat to Hatch this summer.

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 presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

While he's had support from FreedomWorks, Liljenquist hasn't nearly seen the deluge of contributions from outside groups like Mourdock did in Indiana. And Hatch's campaign has spent more than $5 million this cycle, on top of big money from several outside groups supporting his candidacy.

Hatch has also moved more aggressively in his campaign than Lugar did to emphasize his conservative credentials.

Team Hatch, after Lugar's defeat, sent out a statement Wednesday defending his own conservative credentials-features Lugar was accused of lacking.

"From the first day of service in the United States Senate, Senator Orrin Hatch has been guided by the conservative principles that define Utah – limited government, lower taxes, less government spending, and personal responsibility," the statement said.

His campaign points to Romney's backing of the senator-the presidential candidate even starred in a commercial for Hatch-as well as praise from groups like the National Rifle Association and Club for Growth, though the latter group has not endorsed Hatch's re-election bid or spent money on the race.

Liljenquist has been pushing Hatch to accept a debate invitations leading up to the primary. Hatch agreed to one debate, which would be their third debate of the cycle.

The single debate will be held on KSL radio in June, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Filed under: 2012 • Orrin Hatch • Senate • Utah
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Former Republican, now an Independent

    My guess is, Indiana will vote Mourdoch at after one term. The tea party candidates are mostly radical extremists, and that usually doesn't sit well with people of common sense.

    May 9, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  2. GonzoinHouston

    The TP's are not Republicans – they are right-wing extremists. If the GOP doesn't confront this group they will eventually take over the GOP, a development that would be bad for the country and worse for the GOP. The TP's openly threaten to primary long-term republicans; the republicans need to return the favor.

    May 9, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  3. Cindy

    No body connected toBAIN can be trusted.

    May 9, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  4. Wake up people

    Oh a Bain Capital guy?? Why am I not surprised??

    OBAMA 2012!

    May 9, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  5. B

    The republicans made a faustian bargain with the Tea Party for personal gain, for votes without regard for future costs or consequences. Now, Hatch and others are suffering the consequences of their actions.

    May 9, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  6. Norberto Barchacky

    The future in the world is at our palms – on their own we might not be noticed, but collectively we are able to really make a difference. Eugene looked at Politics as an art of some type, while He viewed Politics as an easy way of Regulating. In this recent elections in Nigeria youth inserted them selves in Cameras Politics. coleman tents reviews villa del mar , coleman tents reviews villa del mar

    May 9, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  7. Namejkane fl live from teapublican moon base no taxes, no regulation no health care, free gas.

    Another bain capital loser we don't need in government!!!

    May 9, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  8. HoosiersFORMourdock

    Lets seal the deal by closing the HATCH.

    May 9, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  9. Larry L

    The Republicans just can't be radical and hateful enough for the Tea Party. Anybody who even hints they might work in a bi-partisan manner is demonized by the right-wing. The ultra-right-wing controls the Republican Party in the primary election – but moderate Republicans and independents will avoid them like the plague in the general election. They are sealing the doom of the GOP.

    May 9, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  10. ron

    Then Boehner. Then McConnell. LOL! You boys have made sure "someone" is a failure! Looks like the GOP is on its last leg. Tea Party is smiling ear-to-ear saying "Thanks.....suckers!"

    May 9, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  11. znHcats

    Since when the conservatives are so important to the political agenda? All the Republicans claim they are the conservative. IF they want to lower the spending in Washington, cut their own entitlements first, and cut the size of the House & Congress. To those teapartiers: give up your social programs as well, no social security, medicare and disable benefits before accusing of gov't spending.

    May 9, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  12. Michael

    Running on – limited government, lower taxes, less government spending, and personal responsibility are only empty slogans – that mean nothing. The repeal of habeas corpus, the skyrocketing size of the MIHC that would give Eisenhower nightmares, 30 plus years of tax cuts so the machine is borrowing money from SS, and the wholesale scam of 9-11 that launched the IRAQ/AFGHAN wars based on lies, lies, lies to gain resources. Corporate Welfare also known as bailouts. The Democrats and Republicans ain't gonna fire themselves.

    May 9, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    Even Ronald Reagan would not pass the Tea Party purity test.

    May 9, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  14. Marc in Florida

    As the GOP paints itself into a corner, one has to wonder whether anyone is watching. The best and only defense against their success is an educated voter. In the end the public gets what it votes for, good luck America.

    May 9, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  15. smum

    Hatch may pull this one out just fine. Different from Lugar, who was above all a true statesman, Hatch has always been an opportunist who will do and say whatever to get him relected.

    May 9, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  16. Roger That

    Idiotic Tea Party Affiliates don't know what's good for Conservatives. Hatch has been an asset for the state of Utah. Don't ruin a good thing

    May 9, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  17. Benjamin Franklin

    Was Bain Capital really Mormom Capital?

    May 9, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  18. Patrick

    If Senator Hatch is defeated in his will mark the beginning of the end for the Republicans being a national they discard conservatives they are becoming more extremist and radical in who they will accept as their standard 10 years they will be irrelevant when a new National Party replaces them.

    May 9, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  19. conandoyle

    And the cannabalization of the GOP continues.

    May 9, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  20. Martin Walters Seattle

    I agree, Hatch likely to be voted out this go around. Orrin Hatch is a poster child for Term Limits. Times are a changing.

    May 10, 2012 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  21. acajunthatsagun

    Never fear Hatch will pull out every dirty trick in the GOP play book a la Nixon.

    May 10, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  22. Nate

    From what I can tell here in Salt Lake City, it is my opinion that Hatch is safe. He is in a position to become the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and has pushed for a balanced budget amendment. Utah stands poised to play a major role in important policy issues with his reelection. The citizenry of Utah understand the importance of this and will elect him even if they feel like they have to "hold their nose" to do it.

    May 10, 2012 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  23. ct

    we the people haven't forgotten that it was the republicans that screwed up this great nation....

    May 10, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  24. Thomas

    Eaten by your own children !

    May 10, 2012 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  25. Gurgyl

    America, could you please sweep this old "JUNK" dump in ocean???please!!!
    PS: this junk is hurting with corruption, progress with rusty old ideas! God bless.

    May 10, 2012 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
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