Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Hatch sent to primary
Politics » Liljenquist will square off with incumbent in June.
First Published Apr 21 2012 09:46 pm • Last Updated Apr 23 2012 11:26 am

Sen. Orrin Hatch came a handful of votes short of claiming his party’s nomination at Saturday’s state GOP convention and will now face a June 26 primary election against former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist.

After two rounds of balloting, Hatch received 2,313 votes or 59.1 percent of the delegate vote. He needed the support of 32 more people to hit the 60 percent threshold and claim the nomination outright.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Eight other challengers, including state Rep. Chris Herrod, were eliminated on the first round of balloting at Sandy’s South Towne Expo Center on Saturday. Herrod and four others threw their support to Liljenquist between rounds, helping him jump from 28 percent of the vote to just over 40 percent. He left energized.

"It is the time for a new generation of leaders. We know it to our bones," said Liljenquist, 37. "We have two more months. We feel good about our chances."

Hatch will begin the next phase with the momentum from convention and far more financial support, but it’s not unheard of for a newcomer to topple an incumbent in a primary. Jason Chaffetz beat Rep. Chris Cannon in 2008.

The senator says he’s confident he will come out ahead this time.

"We’re going to win it," he said, calling the vote "a tremendous victory" even if he didn’t win the nomination outright.

"We’re pretty darn happy about what did happen. It sent a message. It says that this tough old bird isn’t someone you can just trample on."

The race has received widespread national attention, with tea party groups such as FreedomWorks targeting Hatch and spending more than $700,000 in a campaign to defeat him and boost Liljenquist.

The senator has spent millions of dollars and amassed a campaign staff of more than two dozen to recruit delegates and fight the tea party wave that consumed former Sen. Bob Bennett at the state convention two years ago.

story continues below
story continues below

So far, the race has hinged on Hatch’s longevity. The senator touts his seniority on the Senate Finance Committee, which he may lead if Republicans take control of the Senate after the 2012 election.

Liljenquist’s slogan has been "It’s time," a not-too-subtle jab at Hatch’s lengthy tenure in Washington, which he argued was dotted with votes to expand the role of government and add to the national debt.

Both candidates hit these familiar notes when addressing the nearly 4,000 delegates on Saturday.

With a feisty demeanor and a hoarse voice, Hatch called himself "a tough old bird" and promised that this would be his last election.

"It will be my last six years in the U.S. Senate," he said. "But they’ll be the best six years and the most critical six years of all."

Hatch also had a video message from Mitt Romney, who apologized for not attending in person.

"We need Orrin Hatch back in the Senate helping to lead the way," Romney said.

Hatch argued that he was the only candidate with the clout to fight for control of Utah’s federal lands or protect Hill Air Force Base.

He didn’t reference his challengers. Liljenquist, by contrast, took direct aim at Hatch, arguing: "No senator is king, no matter what seat he is in."

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.