Longtime GOP senator faces major test
April 19th, 2012
10:07 AM ET
11 years ago

Longtime GOP senator faces major test

(CNN) - Two years after Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah was defeated in his bid for renomination at the GOP's state convention, Sen. Orrin Hatch faces the same test.

But a new statewide poll of Republicans indicates the outcome from Saturday's Utah GOP state party convention could be very different from April 2010, when Bennett came in third. He lost out to two more conservative tea party backed candidates, which denied him a chance to run for renomination in the Republican primary.

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Hatch, the longest serving politician in Utah history, is running for a seventh term in the Senate. He needs to win 60% of the approximate 4,000 delegates voting at Saturday's convention to go directly to November's general election and avoid a primary battle in June.

If he doesn't reach 60%, then he and whoever comes in second at the convention will face off in the June primary. That person would most likely be former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, who is backed by many tea party activists as well as FreedomWorks, a national conservative grassroots organization. State Rep. Chris Herrod and seven other candidates are also challenging Hatch for the GOP nomination.

A Salt Lake Tribune survey released Thursday indicates that 62% of Republican voters in Utah back Hatch as the Senate nominee, with 20% favoring Liljenquist, 6% supporting Herrod and 12% unsure. The poll did not ask about the seven other lesser-known candidates.

Hatch's re-election campaign released two polls they conducted of convention delegates, with both indicating Hatch just above the 60% threshold. Some other surveys conducted by other organizations and campaigns have Hatch below 60%. The delegates were chosen last month during Utah's GOP caucuses.

Hatch, who was first elected to the Senate in 1976, announced last month that if re-elected in November, he would not run again for his seat in 2018.

The senator, who wants to avoid Bennett's fate, has a history of reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats, which obviously does not sit well with many tea party activists and other conservatives. But Hatch has taken steps since the midterm elections to distance himself from criticism from those on the right by highlighting his conservative chops. He previously led the Senate GOP push for a balanced budget amendment and was a co-sponsor of a Republican amendment to repeal the new health care law. He also landed a perfect score in the American Conservative Union's 2010 ratings.

Filed under: 2012 • Congress • Orrin Hatch • Senate • Utah
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Angela

    This is a sad statement.
    The senator, who wants to avoid Bennett’s fate, has a history of reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats, which obviously does not sit well with many tea party activists and other conservatives

    April 19, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. Thomas

    I remember when Sen. Orrin Hatch said GW Bush was to immature and inexperienced for the job as President , he was right !

    It's said to see what the Republican party has become.

    April 19, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  3. Malory Archer

    It appears that the good people of Utah have wised up a bit since 2010. Let's hope it's a national trend!

    April 19, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. GI Joe

    The teabaggers don't like ANYONE that will work for the betterment of U.S.A. It's all about the corporations and the wealthiest.

    April 19, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |