May 3rd, 2010
03:31 PM ET
13 years ago

Bennett touts experience

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="Bennett has been reaching out directly to delegates who will attend the upcoming Utah GOP convention."]

(CNN) - A new Deseret News/KSL poll indicates that 50 percent of Utah voters see Sen. Bob Bennett in a favorable light, with 39 percent holding an unfavorable view.

And according to a Salt Lake Tribune survey, nearly four in ten likely Republican primary voters say they back Bennnet, putting the three-term senator nearly 20 points ahead of his closer competitor.

Not bad numbers for a politician running for re-election – unless, of course, you face Bennett's predicament. His problem: because the Utah GOP uses a convention to help determine it's nominee, Bennett might not even make it to the June primary.

The release of the two polls on Sunday and Monday comes as the senator fights for his political life. To advance to the 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.

Bennett has been reaching out directly to those delegates in recent days with an e-mail and direct mail campaign focusing on what Utah voters will lose if he's booted from office. The pitch ends with the slogan, "Before you vote, know what the consequences are."

"Utah will lose its voice on energy and water," Bennett told the Salt Lake Tribune, comments confirmed by his campaign. "We live in a desert and water is vitally important to us."

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 in favor 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.

"They will not lose a conservative vote because, frankly, on the big conservative issues, my voting record and my opponents' voting records would be identical," Bennett argues.

But one of his seven opponents at Saturday's state party convention disagrees. Utah attorney Mike Lee, a frontrunner for the nomination, told the Salt Lake Tribune that he and Bennett have philosophical differences.

A Salt Lake Tribune survey of 400 of those Republican delegates, released last week, indicates that only 16 percent of them are supporting the senator, putting Bennett in third place. According to the poll conducted April 22-25 by Mason Dixon Polling and Research, Lee, with 37 percent, and businessman Tim Bridgewater, with 20 percent, lead Bennett.

The Salt Lake Tribune poll follows another survey that suggests a tough re-election bid for Bennett.

A Dan Jones and Associates poll conducted for KSL and the Deseret News released recently indicates that nearly 60 percent of the 526 GOP convention delegates questioned do not think Bennett deserved re-election. But the poll did indicated that Bennett was in second place, with the backing of 21 percent of delegates.

"Senator Bennett's objective is to get out of convention and give Republican primary voters an opportunity to have their voices heard. There is still a lot of volatility in this process and we remain confident," Jim Bennett, a spokesman for the campaign, told CNN.

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.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: 2010 • Bob Bennett • Utah
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    I wish the right wingnuts would stop talking about conservative values. When they say they are for something, they do the opposite. (bank bailouts, unfunded drug programs, unnecessary wars, big government programs like homeland security, unfunded tax cuts, attacks on constitution, civil rights abuses, are just a few of the reasons conservative acts speak louder than words) It is more like conservative contradictions.

    May 3, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. Pragmatic

    "the Utah GOP uses a convention to help determine it's nominee, Bennett might not even make it to the June primary..."

    Which is the GOP ramming their right-wing candidates down voter's throats – why Charlie Crist is running as a non-affiliated candidate. When "the party" not the people decide who even runs for election, its time for a change!!!

    May 3, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Oh, but then he can join Joe Lieberman and (maybe) Charlie Crist as the new Independent wing of the Senate. Hey, would the Republicans even allow Crist and Bennett to caucus with them? What if they need them to make their 41 vote Fillibustering Minority?

    May 3, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  4. JonDie

    Utah's representatives in Congress are all Neanderthals so it doesn't much matter who represents Utah.

    May 3, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  5. Pa Santigie

    Where are the pitch forks and the torches.....they are about to run another one out of town. god forbid he expresses good judgment and support something good for the country.
    Bill Mahr said it best not all Republicans are racists, but all racists are in the republican party.
    The tea party is a bunch of selfish mean, old farts claiming to be Fiscally Conservative, when all they are greedy and selfish people who do not want others to have what they have, a good life. They wish to have the rest of mankind always looking to them for handouts – they forget that AMERICA ONCE BELONGED TO THE NATIVES .......

    May 3, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |