Is Orrin Hatch headed for defeat?

But the most damaging material in the FreedomWorks kit was the account of Hatch’s longtime collaboration with his late friend Senator Ted Kennedy. The Republican had supported an individual mandate for health insurance as an alternative to Hillarycare in 1993, and in 1997, he voted for the Kennedy-backed SCHIP program of subsidized health insurance. In 2009, as Barack Obama came into office, Hatch made clear he would like to work with his ailing Democratic friend on comprehensive health-care legislation. “I would like to do [health-care reform] as a legacy issue for [Kennedy], if I can — this would mean a lot to him,” he told The New Republic. Then, as opposition mounted during 2009 to his colleague Bob Bennett’s nomination back home, Hatch quickly transformed into a fierce and often effective critic of Obamacare in all its forms…

Now Senator Hatch will have to defend his record before a broader electorate. No doubt he will outspend his opponent and have the party’s establishment behind him. But his failure on Saturday to conquer a convention he worked so hard to stack with allies shows just how vulnerable he might be in a state where the Tea Party is clearly still a factor.