Bailout Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch Will Face Primary

By:  Thomas R. Eddlem
04/23/2012
       
Bailout Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch Will Face Primary

 Six-term incumbent Utah Senator Orrin Hatch will face a primary opponent for the first time since he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976, after the Utah GOP convention narrowly failed Saturday to give him the 60 percent super-majority needed to avoid a primary. The 78-year-old Senator came up just 31 votes short of avoiding a primary, and will face former state Senator Dan Liljenquist in the primary.

 Six-term incumbent Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (photo) will face a primary opponent for the first time since he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976, after the Utah GOP convention narrowly failed Saturday to give him the 60 percent super-majority needed to avoid a primary. The 78-year-old Senator came up just 31 votes short of avoiding a primary, and will face former state Senator Dan Liljenquist in the primary.

 

“Hatch received 59.2 percent of delegate vote to Liljenquist's 40.8 percent,” on the second ballot, the Utah-based Deseret News reported April 21. “Candidates need 60 percent of the vote to win the party nomination outright. Eight other candidates did not advance after the first ballot.”
 
Hatch spun the primary fight as a victory. “Just a few months ago, nobody was going to give me a chance,” he told reporters after the convention.
 
But the primary will indeed be a rebuke to Hatch for his vote in favor of the $700 billion TARP financial bailout in 2008. Hatch was not up for reelection in 2010, but his U.S. Senate colleague from Utah, Republican Bob Bennett, was voted out of office for his support of TARP. Bennett placed third in a five-way convention contest that year, and failed to even make the ballot for the primary.
 
In comparison with Bennett's experience, the near-60 percent vote was a victory for Hatch, who has irked party conservatives in recent years with an ever-more-liberal voting record. Hatch voted for the massive No Child Left Behind entitlement program in 2001 and Medicare Part D in 2003 as well as the TARP bailout bill in 2008.
 
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