Hatch will face primary election for Senate seat
April 21st, 2012
04:01 PM ET
8 years ago

Hatch will face primary election for Senate seat

(CNN) - Utah Republicans forced Orrin Hatch into a June primary for the U.S. Senate seat he has held since 1976 as Hatch fell short of winning the party’s nomination for a seventh term Saturday.

Hatch came within 42 votes of winning the nomination outright at the state’s GOP convention, but ultimately missed the 60% support needed to avoid a primary. He will face former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, one of nine challengers who tried to oust him, on June 26.

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Hatch’s history of reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats does not sit well with many tea party activists and other conservatives. But those constituencies may take more favorably his leading the Senate GOP push for a balanced budget amendment and co-sponsoring a Republican amendment to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law.

Hatch won the support of 59.19% of the 4,000 delegates in the second round of voting, with Liljenquist claiming 40.81%. The remaining eight challengers were eliminated on the first ballot, when Hatch won 57% of the vote, Liljenquist 28%, and state Rep. Chris Herrod just over 10% - a threshold reached by no other candidate.

Hatch has spent millions in the last year against the challengers and outside groups seeking his ouster. He went into the weekend with some polls, including internal surveys released by his campaign, split as to whether a primary would take place.

At the 2010 GOP convention, the state’s boiling tea party movement - largely fueled by the passing of the sweeping health care legislation – swept aside longtime Utah Sen. Bob Bennett when he finished third and the top two candidates faced off in a primary. Mike Lee won the November election for the seat.

In a short speech to the convention – each candidate was allowed six minutes to speak or show a video presentation – Hatch touted his seniority, arguing it would land him a powerful committee chairmanship and has given him expertise with navigating the nation’s upper legislative house.

“Not anyone else in this race can say the same, not if he’s telling the truth,” Hatch said.

But Liljenquist told delegates, “Your vote today has nothing to do with the words ‘chairman’ or ‘seniority.’ ”

“It has everything to do with the experience… and background to turn things around,” he said.

Several candidates touted their willingness to work with likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney, should he be elected president, but Hatch’s presentation opened with a video of Mitt Romney urging delegates to vote for “my friend, Orrin Hatch.”

Romney has a reserve of goodwill in the state where many share his Mormon faith, and which saw him turn around the 2002 Olympic games held in Salt Lake City.

A Salt Lake Tribune survey released Thursday shows 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 seven other lesser-known candidates.

Internal polling of convention delegates released by the Hatch campaign showed him above the 60% mark. Surveys conducted by some other organizations showed him falling short of the threshold.

In a statement after his win, Hatch said he is "prepared for the primary election ahead."

“Today was a good win for me, and for my campaign. We have come a long way in a short period of time," he said. “I am prepared and energized for the battle ahead. I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel our state from corner to corner, talking to voters, and discussing the issues of great importance to Utahns – and I will continue to work hard to ensure that my message is heard loud and clear."

Liljenquist told supporters in a Saturday evening fundraising email, "I promise to go to Washington and promote fiscal conservatism so that we can get our country and our economy back on track."

Among other influences in the race, the conservative and tea party-aligned group FreedomWorks is seeking to unseat Hatch, as it and allies did in Bennett’s 2010 bid. The national political director of FreedomWorks said in a statement after Saturday's vote that Hatch "had 36 years to get his act together, but continues to put power over policy."

“Dan Liljenquist is a rock solid conservative who will uphold the Constitution and stand by Senator Mike Lee in Washington to get America’s spending problem under control," Russ Walker said.

But groups aligned with Hatch, including the National Rifle Association and the super PAC Freedom Path, spent more than FreedomWorks in the lead up to Utah’s March local caucuses.

Also see:

Romney releases March fundraising figures

Paul campaign touts campaign cash

RNC looks to Facebook for political edge

Biden says Democrats have chance in Arizona

Filed under: 2012 • Orrin Hatch
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Larry in Houston

    This guy has hated working people , and in addition to the fact that he's hated the middle class for the last 35 years. I remember when working at the Factory back East, when we had our Monthly Union Meetings, he was against everything that the middle class / regular working people was ever for. I mean, they used to discuss this guy, in several States where Manufacturing was present. I honestly don't know why or what the people in Utah ever see in him. I've never been to Utah, but anytime you hear of a corrupt Congressman in Utah, the name Orrin Hatch always comes up. amazing, isn't it ?

    April 21, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  2. S. B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Just because someone hasn't voted the way you wanted 100% there you want to toss him out? That strikes me as being a stupid. You cut down a powerful proponet of yours because he's been there too long? Weird to me.

    April 21, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  3. John milner

    Orrin hatch, yet another absolutely nauseating puddle of diaper juice

    April 21, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  4. Republicans are Neanderthals

    Hatch will likely keep his seat. Just what the country needs, old, mormon, white men!

    April 21, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  5. Excoastie

    I hope the Teaparty splits the republican party vote and an independent or a democrat wins the Utah Senate seat. When will those people learn?

    April 21, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. enuff

    The Tea Party is trying to cancel out the mormon vote. This should get interesting. How are the mormons going to handle this one?

    April 21, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  7. nugun

    Actually, I think it's his being totally in bed with the copyright cartels & big business.

    April 21, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  8. ElmerGantry

    Isn't it cute how the photo was staged to make it look like he has a halo. Look at the perspective, the photographer has to squat real low to the floor to get this angle and alignment with the ceiling.

    BTW: Boehner and other's also have this staged photo.

    Hmmmm, message to the fundies out there. YOU BETCHA.

    April 21, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |

    April 21, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  9. John

    GOP are running scared. They have seen the polls and waged war on women and now they are running around going crazy not knowing what to do. Don't worry GOP you will be taken out of your misery in November.

    April 21, 2012 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  10. Backdoorpalin

    Time to clean house, this is a good start...

    April 22, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  11. Jimbo

    This is basically a waste of time, because Hatch is going to win the nomination anyway, seeing how he just barely missed out on 60%.

    April 22, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  12. J.V.Hodgson

    The tea party continues to try and move the House and Senate further toward the right of the Republican party. Personally it disturbs me as the economic policies they wish to follow will cause a huge problem as thier ideas of balanced budget simply crucify the middle class consumer who is over 65 % of US GDP. That leads, i.e reduced consumer spending, only to one outcome; economic disaster.

    April 22, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  13. Billy Jack

    Name 1 good thing ANY of those traitors EVER did for our country! 1 THING! JUST 1! The "politicians" have never ever helped the people of this nation! They have been battling against the people , our will , and our best interests ALL ALONG! THEY ARE THE NATION GOBBLING COMMUNISTS THEY CONVINCED US THE SOVIETS WERE! INDEED "THE GREAT SATAN" u know im right, deep in your heart and soul its unmistakable. im 46 now, for a moment, but its been long enough to recognize their obvious and now primitive deception. Against all humans and all life...all along

    April 22, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  14. Mike Stidham

    Dan Liljenquist is a mini younger Orrin harch

    April 22, 2012 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  15. Billy Jack

    Please put that up guys,girls. THATS the truth that makes it all make sense. Their subtle deception, same m o as eve in our former garden paradise. Back to the virtual f1 racing, have world record laps, i AM the man, traded my life for the seat time to log the years of CONSTANT practice to learn more than anyone, see everybody soon. CHRIST IS RISEN IS RISEN!

    April 22, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  16. Billy Jack

    Another u n/ nato rep

    April 22, 2012 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  17. Jay

    Again, people don't understand the political spectrum (nolimits3333). Orrin Hatch is a statist. He voted for the Patriot Act and NDAA. Anyone who voted for the NDAA is a traitor to liberty. It isn't about too "liberal". "Liberal" isn't even a correct term in the current political lexicon. It is about being aligned with our fear pushing federal government. THAT is why we don't like Hatch here in UT.

    April 22, 2012 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  18. greatscottkey

    It's about time.

    April 22, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  19. greatscottkey

    About time. Goodbye Orrin.

    April 22, 2012 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  20. Freddie

    I'm sure Damon has kissed Bush a whole bunch of times.

    April 22, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  21. Skip Skeptic

    I'd guess Hatch would win still.

    April 22, 2012 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  22. Jane

    @Free Man: Oh please, anyone with a pulse and their head not up their rear knows that the 'tea party' is a wholly owned, fully funded brainchild of the Koch Bros, and Freedomworks. It was almost humerous to see all the 'rebels' being bused in by Dick Army and other operatives that wouldn't give you the time of day, clutching their social security checks in their hot little hands, being handed mass produced offensive racist signs, and thinking that they weren't just being manipulated by the Right. Sad, actually.

    April 22, 2012 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  23. Phedra

    Maybe it's time to put someone new in office. I think Mr. Hatch has held that position long enough. Sometimes it's good to shake things up a bit. People become complacent and take their jobs for granted. This could well be a good thing.

    April 22, 2012 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  24. brad

    but you the people refuse to believe that other people might have a different way of life than you so you vote in fellow close minded people who refuse to compromise on issues that cannot be black and white without a theological dictated society.

    April 22, 2012 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  25. Andrew

    Looks like they are trying to oust the loose cannons within the party.

    April 22, 2012 03:56 am at 3:56 am |
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