Liljenquist launches bid to unseat Hatch
January 4th, 2012
05:43 PM ET
11 years ago

Liljenquist launches bid to unseat Hatch

(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.

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Filed under: 2012 • Orrin Hatch • Senate • Utah
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Bill

    Time for Hatch to go. Term limits folks.

    January 4, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Doesn't this guy Liljenquist realize that the Tea Party movement will be the kiss of the death this year? Apparently, he didn't get the memo. Let him waste Koch money on a campaign. Republican infighting will only help Democrats.

    January 4, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. Whatever

    I hope that McConnell, Cantor and several others are challenged for their seats too!!! No incumbent in congress or sentate should be safe.

    January 4, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. cisco4

    Good... Make the Republican party into the T party.. Look what the republicans have done so far for you in the House...Nothing..

    January 4, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  5. Ron

    LOL. You reap what you sow, Orrin.

    January 4, 2012 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  6. paul

    36 years is enough – he has participated in putting us where we are today.

    January 4, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  7. Jamie from Riverside

    Buh Bye, Orrin. The Tea-Party crazies have spoken and now you're out.

    January 4, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. willie floyd

    @Bill-agreed, but he needs to be replaced by a Dem.!!

    January 4, 2012 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  9. chuck weidemann

    Hatch ...not a conservative?? Get real!!

    January 4, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  10. Fla Pete

    Hatch being unseatted by a wall street lap dog ,how nice.Hopefully a Dem will take it away from both of them...Useless piece of garbage.....

    January 4, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  11. racegirl1

    Here we go again, Freedom Works are at it again. Don't the IRS have any work to do? IRS think job security think Koch Brothers, Freedom Works, Fox and Funnies and all the other right wing nuts out there.

    January 4, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    He's being bagged, folks. Union busting, Medicare/Medicaid cutter on the way.

    January 4, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  13. stars

    it is time for hatch to retire he need to vote with the dem from here util election that will teach them not play on his emotions

    January 4, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  14. Jilli

    time for that priss Hatch to actually have to work for a living instead of raping and pillaging our government. On second thought, between his pension and government health care – and the fruits of his raping and pillaging the government, he probably won't have to work. Good luck Mr. Liljenquist.

    January 4, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  15. Thomas


    I second that motion !

    January 4, 2012 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  16. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I guess that people don't lke the idea of seniority. That is what Hatch has. If they don't like his working with Democrats, then these people don't know what Congress is all about.

    January 4, 2012 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |