SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Over the past two years, GOP primaries have ended the careers of several veteran Republican politicians who were backed by the party’s establishment. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch is seeking to avoid the same fate in his first primary challenge since winning office in 1976.
Hatch’s race is the premier event as several states hold primaries Tuesday. Among them is New York, where Rep. Charlie Rangel is running for a 22nd term, the first time he’s faced voters since the House censured him 18 months ago for failing to pay all his taxes and for filing misleading financial disclosure statements.
A few months ago, Hatch was considered vulnerable — like his former Republican colleague Robert Bennett, who was booted from the Senate two years ago at the Utah nominating convention, and like six-term Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, who lost in last month’s Indiana GOP primary.
But Hatch, 78, is now viewed as the heavy favorite in Tuesday’s matchup against former state Sen. Daniel Liljenquist. Hatch has enjoyed a huge resource advantage that let him unleash the most expensive and detailed campaign operation in Utah’s history. Hatch raised about $10 million, and that has allowed the campaign to contact thousands of voters individually and to spread two messages on the airways: He has the backing of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and his seniority on the Senate Finance Committee would benefit the state.
Liljenquist, 37, is a relative newcomer to the Utah political scene. He enjoyed recognition for leading efforts to overhaul the pension system for the state’s employees during his first term as a legislator. Instead of opting to rise through the state’s political ranks, he chose to take on the state’s best-known political figure.
Read More at OfficialWire. By Kevin Freking.
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