Utah Senate primary: anti-climax?

posted at 10:01 am on June 26, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Utah Republicans go to the polls today to select their nominee for the US Senate, but it’s a mighty different race than two years ago.  In 2010, Tea Party activists dethroned Bob Bennett at the convention, preventing him from getting on the primary ballot.  Six-term Senator Orrin Hatch learned a lesson and out-organized the activists at the convention, and is cruising to a seventh term.

The New York Times chalks it up to decreased anger in the Tea Party:

Mr. Hatch has been running an aggressive and well-financed campaign to fend off his first primary challenge since he was elected in 1976. But his saving grace, political analysts said, may be that Utah voters don’t seem as angry as they were when they ousted Senator Robert F. Bennett in a 2010 party convention.

“There isn’t the same anti-incumbent, anti-establishment fervor that existed in 2010,” said LaVarr Webb, a Republican political consultant. “The economy has changed, and people are feeling better.”

Even Mr. Bennett agreed. “The atmosphere has changed enormously,” he said. “There’s as strong a pro-incumbent wave in Utah as there was an anti-incumbent wave two years ago. It’s a backlash.”

Utah’s jobless rate is 5.8 percent, sharply lower than the national rate of 8.2 percent. It has a humming export economy, and major employers like Goldman Sachs and Boeing have been expanding. And much of the Republican desire for change is now aimed at the White House, not the Senate race.

Well, that’s certainly one interpretation, but the key was the convention.  Had Bennett prepared for a floor fight in 2010, he might have made it to the primary.  And had he made it to the primary, Bennett almost certainly would have beaten Lee for the nomination and cruised to another term.  Polling at the time showed Bennett in relatively good shape even in the anti-incumbent mood of the national electorate.  The only way that the Tea Party could beat Bennett is by out-organizing him at the convention.

Hatch learned the lesson from 2010.  The Tea Party went after Hatch hard; FreedomWorks made unseating him one of its biggest projects this year.  Hatch began emphasizing the most conservative parts of his record to counter the Tea Party challenge, but more to the point, began organizing a big ground game to be sure he could beat the Tea Party at the convention.  He just missed beating Tea Party favorite Dan Liljenquist by the necessary 60% of the ballots to avoid the primary altogether.

Not that it makes much difference, as polling shows today.  Hatch is poised to win by a mile today:

Sen. Orrin Hatch has a significant lead over his opponent in Tuesday’s GOP primary, former state lawmaker Dan Liljenquist, according to a new Deseret News/KSL-TV poll.

Sixty percent of the registered voters in Utah polled who said they will vote in the Republican primary backed Hatch’s bid for a seventh term in the U.S. Senate. Just under one-third of the respondents, 32 percent, said they supported Liljenquist.

The poll, conducted June 15-21 by Dan Jones & Associates, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

Hatch also beat Liljenquist in fundraising:

But while Hatch reported raising more than $10 million since he last appeared on the ballot in 2006, recent Federal Election Commission filings show Liljenquist personally contributed about half of the nearly $800,000 raised by his campaign.

Liljenquist and Freedomworks tried eroding Hatch’s standing by criticizing him for only taking part in one debate after the convention.  Liljenquist even staged a “debate” with a cardboard cutout of Hatch in an attempt to embarrass his opponent into engaging.  Clearly, Utahns weren’t impressed.  That doesn’t mean that Tea Party activists were any less passionate in 2012 than in 2010 — it just means that Hatch outfoxed them.


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Hatch will win…

OmahaConservative on June 26, 2012 at 10:03 AM

1976. Wow. I can vaguely recall the Bicentennial.

Dongemaharu on June 26, 2012 at 10:08 AM

OC ,
Prayers for your friend .

Lucano on June 26, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Another progressive Republican survives dang it.

BroncosRock on June 26, 2012 at 10:10 AM

…Hatch has been talking a little tougher lately also…but unlike someone like Speaker Bonehead in the House…he might follow through on his tough talk.

KOOLAID2 on June 26, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Considering the “abilities” of Congress, it may well be time for all incumbents, except maybe those elected for the first time in 2010, to go. Senator Hatch definitely deserves to retire–or be retired–at this point.

Alas, merely a political fantasy.

Kevin K. on June 26, 2012 at 10:11 AM

I think the poll is off. The majority of yard signs I have seen are for Dan. The people who want Dan are going to be motivated and will go out and vote. Those for Orrin will think that he has it in the bag and won’t show up. I seem to remember that in the primary with Bridgewater and Lee, that Lee was supposedly down about 10 points but in actually voting Lee beat him. So polls can be wrong.

aggie13 on June 26, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Dang it mr let the dems run over me during confirmation hearings

cmsinaz on June 26, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Hatch is hardly our biggest problem when we have Obama and the Senate run by Reid who won’t pass a budget and worries about regulating boxing.

gsherin on June 26, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Well it sure is compelling how the GOP is eager to change its ways to a more small-government minded footprint by re-electing a youthful, open-minded, thirty-six year incumbent who has been contributing to the GOP demise over the past generation.

Meet the new old boss… same as the old boss.

If only we had even more, longer-tenured incumbents, we’d have a much stronger nation where laws, not men, rule.

AnonymousDrivel on June 26, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Is Liljenquist an authentic Tea Party guy? Palin doesn’t think so. Mark Levin doesn’t think so. That doesn’t make Hatch a great conservative, but Hatch has more power to keep leftwing nutcases off the Supreme Court. You don’t throw away that skill for nothing.

RBMN on June 26, 2012 at 10:17 AM

We could do worse than Hatch.

davek70 on June 26, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Good.

Hatch is not some self-entitled weasel like the squishes who have been defeated. He’s a decent human being who understood which way the country was moving and accommodated the changes.

KingGold on June 26, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Guess someone dosn’t want to get punched in the nose .

Lucano on June 26, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Just how stupid can some of us conservatives be? Does anybody really think this guy has changed?He has spent years thumbing his nose at us and now because he has had a last-minute conversion to secure re-election you idiots actually will vote for him.It amazes me how we squander any power and influence we have in the GOP.We just spent the last year destroying the candidacy of just about every conservative running for the nomination,helping to secure the nomination of the very least conservative running.If you don’t realize all these GOP establishment pseudo-conservative squishes are laughing their butts off at you,you are pathetic.Never ceases to amaze me how so-called principled conservatives find it so easy to sacrifice their values to help elect the lesser of two evils.Well evil by ay other name is still-you guessed it-evil.Funny thing is y’all will be moaning and groaning about the very same people you help elect when they turn around and screw the conservative movement,just like they always do!And if Romney loses you will turn around and blame those of us who won’t sacrifice our principles for any form of evil.Well you got him nominated so start the self flagellation.

redware on June 26, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Orrin Hatch: born 1934.
Dan Liljenquist: born 1974.
Dan will get his shot if he wants it. Just be a little patient.

SKYFOX on June 26, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Orrin Hatch: born 1934.
Dan Liljenquist: born 1974.
Dan will get his shot if he wants it. Just be a little patient.

SKYFOX on June 26, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Hey it worked in WV .. just wait for em to die …
elected for life …
just like Obama wants … president for life …

conservative tarheel on June 26, 2012 at 10:35 AM

That doesn’t make Hatch a great conservative, but Hatch has more power to keep leftwing nutcases off the Supreme Court. You don’t throw away that skill for nothing.

RBMN on June 26, 2012 at 10:17 AM

If Republicans re-take the Senate majority, Hatch will most likely be Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, responsible for vetting SCOTUS nominees, as well as Presidential nominees to lower courts. He has performed admirably in that role in the past, while if Utah elects a freshman Senator, who will chair that Committee who can do as well as Hatch?

Tea Party activists in Utah might think Hatch isn’t “conservative” enough, but Hatch has a long history of being the most conservative member of the Senate, when such positions weren’t popular. He was first elected to the Senate as a Republican in the same year Jimmy Carter was elected President, in the aftermath of Watergate.

Hatch may be old, but he is no RINO or Dick Lugar or Lindsey Graham. He has been a conservative stalwart in the Senate, and he should stay there.

Steve Z on June 26, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Liljenquist’s problem is twofold. First, Hatch was smart enough to recognize the danger he was in and aggressively defended himself early and hard. Second, Hatch isn’t great, but he’s also not a disaster on the level of Murkowski/Snowe/Collins.

Also, Liljenquist just never seemed to catch fire like some other Tea Party candidates did. I doubt the issue is less Tea Party enthusiasm, it’s more that they couldn’t get Liljenquist the traction he needed.

We can’t win ‘em all, folks. We’re going to lose some races. The important thing is just keep pounding away until we’ve won enough to really change the direction of the country, and not listen to the liberal Republicans who keep telling us to stop.

Doomberg on June 26, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Mike Lee saved Orrin Hatch-Kennedy.

Mike Lee spent the last two years attempting to teach Hatch-Kennedy what it means to be conservative. Hatch has been in the beltway echo chamber so long he forgot.

We need to do the following:

1. Pass a constitutional amendment makeing all congressmen employees of the states they represent. Their states will set their pay and benefits. They can’t vote themselves a raise no more.

2. Pass campaign finance reform making it illegal to donate to a candidate (or campaign) you can’t vote for. Congressmen represent the voters of their districts, not labor unions, not corporations, not special interests. They represent the voters. Congressmen forget that as soon as they are elected.

3. We need to make the one reform that Thomas Jefferson said he would make: Deny Congress the power to borrow money.

The Rock on June 26, 2012 at 10:40 AM

1976. I do believe I was playing T-ball that year, T-ball. Time to go, Hatch my boy.

Bishop on June 26, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Hey it worked in WV .. just wait for em to die …
elected for life …
just like Obama wants … president for life …

conservative tarheel on June 26, 2012 at 10:35 AM

If you can’t have faith in the voters, you can still have faith in Father Time.

SKYFOX on June 26, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Sen. Hatch does have quite a bit of useful seniority in the GOP Senate Caucus, and in particular on two very important committees, Judiciary, where I think he’s #2 behind the next Chairman Sen Jeff Sessions (R-AL). I think it is awesome that Sen. Sessions can be the Chairman of the very same committee that smeared him as some Confederate Racist when he was nominated for a Federal Appellate Court position in the Reagan years.

The other is Finance, where he is slated to be Chairman himself.

Could be quite useful in dismantling Dodd-Frank and the other silliness passed in 2009-2010.

Brian1972 on June 26, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Fuc* Hatch. And fuc* Palin and Romney for endorsing this worthless liberal dinosaur pr1ck.

Jaibones on June 26, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Wait,

Are you forgetting the Tea Party Endorsement…..from Sarah Palin ?

May 23, 2012 – Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has endorsed Sen Hatch

Discounting the many headed Tea Party, which doesn’t have a “target” for the Left to attack. Freedom works is a PAC, and has Tea Party support, same as Sarah and “others”.

JayTee on June 26, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Steve Z on June 26, 2012 at 10:36 AM

I heard him say on the Mark Levin Show the other day that he intends to be Senate Finance Committee Chairman.

I’m pretty sure Sen. Jeff Sessions will be Judiciary Chair, which is flippin’ awesome when you consider the last time the GOP had the Senate majority, Sen. Arlen Specter (R/D-PA) was the Judiciary Chairman. Big, big, BIG improvement for conservatives there.

Brian1972 on June 26, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Don’t know if I mentioned it before, but I despise this pr!ck. and you Hotairians who think he’s ok are wrong and should know better. GOP’s Teddy Kennedy … That’s Hatch.

Jaibones on June 26, 2012 at 10:50 AM

…Hatch has been talking a little tougher lately also…but unlike someone like Speaker Bonehead in the House…he might follow through on his tough talk.

KOOLAID2 on June 26, 2012 at 10:10 AM

He’s always been able to sound tough! The problem is he has been drinking the KOOLAID since 1976! Time for Boehner to go, as well! I have no use for either of them, nor the entire Republican leadership.

tomshup on June 26, 2012 at 10:51 AM

ut Hatch has more power to keep leftwing nutcases off the Supreme Court. You don’t throw away that skill for nothing.

RBMN on June 26, 2012 at 10:17 AM

How did that work out last cycle. Seems we got two left wing nut cases.

chemman on June 26, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Hatch wins because Palin endorsed after Hatch got a 30 point poll lead?

Yeah. OK. That makes as much sense as anything else Palin cult members say.

Moesart on June 26, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Palin 1

Freedomworks 0

idesign on June 26, 2012 at 10:56 AM

JayTree, that’s the thing I thought of – Sarah Palin’s endorsement. that pretty much killed the momentum of Hatch’s opponents.

Ward Cleaver on June 26, 2012 at 11:06 AM

The likely answer is that many conservatives outside Utah prefer to funnel their hard-earned money into the REALLY important race, which is general election of 2012 and its local coattails, rather than fighting an entrenched and relatively popular incumbent who, by all accounts, is not half as bad as some squishes who still linger in Washington.

Archivarix on June 26, 2012 at 11:09 AM

That doesn’t mean that Tea Party activists were any less passionate in 2012 than in 2010 — it just means that Hatch outfoxed them.

Some days you get the b’ar.

Some days, the b’ar gets you…

JohnGalt23 on June 26, 2012 at 11:12 AM

This race will be MUCH closer than the polls predict. All the energy is tipping Dan’s way. There is a big difference between the general population and those who will actually take the time to show up to cast a vote.

Even though Hatch outspent Dan 10:1 in the media, the yard signs are for Dan 20:1. This will be one to watch.

sidemeat on June 26, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Hatch wins because Palin endorsed after Hatch got a 30 point poll lead?

Yeah. OK. That makes as much sense as anything else Palin cult members say.

Moesart on June 26, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Skimming the comments above, I didn’t see Palin mentioned anywhere. What does she have to do with this other than you just can’t get her out of your head?

Hatch was going to win no matter if she endorsed him or not. She has nothing to do with this…

davek70 on June 26, 2012 at 11:20 AM

To the NY Times, it’s called, “Choose your battles carefully.” Hatch learned a lesson, others didn’t. If you want to look at thick-heads, who haven’t learned a lesson, it’s the Democrats, they’re still doing the same things they were in 2010. We’ll see how that works for them.

bflat879 on June 26, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Tea Party picks haven’t been all that great. Sayen.

Mr. Arrogant on June 26, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Hatch wins because Palin endorsed after Hatch got a 30 point poll lead?

Yeah. OK. That makes as much sense as anything else Palin cult members say.

Moesart on June 26, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Uh, no idiotard. Palin actually endorsed Hatch almost a year ago. She then renewed that endorsement last month. You were too busy banging your keyboard for Governor Marmalarde to actually listen to what Palin was actually saying.

victor82 on June 26, 2012 at 11:43 AM

We need to do the following:

1. Pass a constitutional amendment makeing all congressmen employees of the states they represent. Their states will set their pay and benefits. They can’t vote themselves a raise no more.

2. Pass campaign finance reform making it illegal to donate to a candidate (or campaign) you can’t vote for. Congressmen represent the voters of their districts, not labor unions, not corporations, not special interests. They represent the voters. Congressmen forget that as soon as they are elected.

3. We need to make the one reform that Thomas Jefferson said he would make: Deny Congress the power to borrow money.

The Rock on June 26, 2012 at 10:40 AM

No to number 2. First off, labor unions, corporations, and “special interests” are all made up of people who have just as much right to organize and petition their government as anyone else. Second, the First Amendment says that we have a protected right to freedom of speech. Not just freedom of speech as it relates to elections we can vote in. Your proposal is just another attempt to get the government in the business of deciding whose voice can be heard in what election.

Shump on June 26, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Steve Z on June 26, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Quit spouting Hatch talking points and do a little independent thinking.

Proven asset on the Judiciary? Harriet. Myers.

And he has a tendency to lose that conservative consistency on important issues.

Free Constitution on June 26, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Brian1972 on June 26, 2012 at 10:47 AM

You are correct. Max Baucus (D-Montana) is the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Hatch is currently the Ranking Member. If we win the Senate, Hatch will become Chairman. Very important!!
Baucus for those that followed the Obamacare hearings in 2009on , will remember him as pushing this disaster thru. He would only allow very few amendments by the R’s and they were all voted down.
Link: http://www.finance.senate.gov/about/Posted by Viator on May 23, 2012 at 10:10 AM http://hotair.com/archives/2012/05/23/palin-endorses-hatch-in-utah/comment-page-4/

bluefox on June 26, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Shump on June 26, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Oh yes to #2. We have too many congresscritters beholden to people outside their districts and states as it is. If the constitution limits such then it stands. If you want to, you can give money to some PAC that wants to advertise for some scum bag running, but giving directly to the candidate should be illegal if you can’t legally vote for them.

Quartermaster on June 26, 2012 at 12:27 PM

If Hatch is ahead in the polls, then perhaps the Voters have read
Liljenquist’s voting record: http://dansrecord.com/dan-liljenquist/grass-roots-detail/

He sounds like another Establishment Republican to me.

bluefox on June 26, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Well there is one thing we can count on and it’s the Palin haters.They certainly won’t be voting for Liljenquist:-)
What?? He resigned??? And before he even finished his first term???
Oh, that will never do/ LOL

Elected to the Utah Senate in 2008, Liljenquist resigned last month in a sign that he was likely to challenge Hatch.)Hatch’s campaign manager Dave Hansen welcomed Liljenquist to the race but found his entry puzzling.

“It is perplexing to me why a state senator who hasn’t even finished his first term of service in the state and running on the platform of entitlement reform would want to challenge Sen. Hatch,” he said.
Link: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=960&sid=18735959

Go Hatch!!!

bluefox on June 26, 2012 at 1:18 PM

I’ll follow Palin’s example and paraphrase Reagan: We shouldn’t consider someone who votes with us 70% of the time our 30% enemy. Hatch has a lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union of 89.77, and a lifetime rating from the Club for Growth of 78%, better than Richard Shelby (AL, 77%), Jerry Moran (KS, 74%), Lamar Alexander (TN, 70%), and the two Senators from Maine, both of whom are in the 30s, among several others who score below Hatch. I’m sure Liljenquist would be a fine conservative in Congress, but our efforts shouldn’t be focused on getting rid of the guy with a 90% ACU rating. Palin made the right call.

Per Ed Morrissey

http://hotair.com/archives/2012/05/23/palin-endorses-hatch-in-utah/comment-page-4/

bluefox on June 26, 2012 at 1:25 PM

If Hatch wins, and every indication is he will, Sarah and her Palinstas will have saved his day. Even Hannity supported Hatch because of His suppoort of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. If Hatch goes back to being the same old RINO, then Palin and Hannity need to remember it.

volsense on June 26, 2012 at 2:06 PM

IIRC, no Republicans in the House voted for Obama’s stimulus. In the Senate, Snowe, Collins, and Specter voted for it. No Republicans at all voted for Obamacare…Republicans are not the problem…While not perfect our Republicans are going a great job of holding the line against the most activist administration in our history. Just because Hatch has been around for decades does not in an of itself mean that he needs to be replaced. Let’s leave that up to the people of Utah…

Nozzle on June 26, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Too bad, Sarah got it right, I got it wrong. It was time for Hatch to go.

Bmore on June 26, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Proof that it’s time for Term Limits! But alas, Hatch won’t vote in favor of that.

kirkill on June 26, 2012 at 4:57 PM