After what started as a risky primary for Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), he coasted to victory. After serving six terms in the U.S. Senate, Hatch was challenged this year by Dan Liljenquist. Many felt Hatch would suffer the same fate of his colleague, former Senator Bob Bennett who lost his seat when ousted at Utah’s Republican Convention two years ag Hatch learned a valuable lesson from Bennett’s loss and from the defeat of his long-time colleague from Indiana, Senator Dick Lugar, both of whom did not take their primary challengers seriously until it was way too late. Hatch started campaigning early and hard. Money poured in for his challenger, including from Washingtonpowerhouse groups like Freedom Works. But Hatch pulled out all the stops and raised campaign donations like never before. He ultimately outspent his opponent nearly 10 to 1.
After several rounds of voting at the Utah GOP Convention in April, Hatch never garnered the necessary votes to avoid a primary. By the time the primary took place yesterday, the question was no longer whether Hatch would win, but by how much. The expectation was that it would be in the high double digits. As I write this, he is leading by about 30 points, so I’ve stopped paying attention and think it is safe to call him the winner. In Utah, the Republican primary, for all intents and purposes, decides it all.
The 78 year-old Hatch –“a tough old bird” as he’s described himself, prevailed and will now be serving a 7th term as one of the most senior members of the Senate. A place were seniority really matters.