Given that FreedomWorks had targeted Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) so heavily in the lead up to the Utah GOP convention last week — pointing out his atrocious voting record, which includes voting for half of the national debt during his time in Washington, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that the group’s PAC has endorsed Dan Liljenquist, who will square off against Hatch in the June primary:
FreedomWorks for America announced today its endorsement of Dan Liljenquist, candidate for United States Senate representing Utah. Liljenquist won 40.8 percent of the delegate vote at last Saturday’s Utah GOP Convention, denying incumbent Senator Orrin Hatch the 60 percent necessary to avoid a June primary.
“Dan Liljenquist is an energetic fiscal conservative who will take a leading role in spending cuts and the repeal of ObamaCare from day one,” commented Russ Walker, National Political Director for FreedomWorks for America.
“We have been working with Utah conservatives since last May to elect the strongest and most consistent advocate for conservative economic policy, and Dan has proven himself to be the man for the job. He will be a great addition to support fellow Utah Senator Mike Lee expanding the conservative coalition in the Senate.”
Leading into the Utah GOP convention on Saturday, many were predicting that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) would manage to avoid a primary contest, and by extension the fate of his former colleague, Bob Bennett, in 2010. And while Hatch didn’t lose his bid for re-election, he will face Dan Liljenquist in a head-to-head matchup:
Sen. Orrin Hatch, forced into a primary election by a narrow vote of delegates at a weekend Utah Republican convention, heads into a nine-week campaign hoping his advantages in money, organization and name recognition will allow him to overwhelm a lesser-known opponent.
Mr. Hatch needed 60% of the convention vote to avoid a primary, but he fell short by 32 out of 3,908 cast. That means he will face his first primary opponent since he won election to the Senate in 1976. His rival will be former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, who received just over 40% of convention delegate votes.
Mr. Liljenquist and his supporters, including tea-party activists, cast the result as a big win and an important step in their nationwide efforts to unseat Republicans they consider insufficiently conservative.
Dave Hanson, Mr. Hatch’s campaign manager, said Sunday the senator had overcome difficult odds, given that tea-party activists two years ago unseated Sen. Robert Bennett, another Utah GOP incumbent, at the convention that year by depriving him of a spot on the primary ballot. Republican Mike Lee went on to win the general election.
We’ve been following Sen. Orrin Hatch’s campaign for re-election some this week. And as you most likely know, many grassroots and Tea Party groups have sent the message that they want to send him packing. However, they’re not picking sides as to who should replace him. But for Political Math, an expert in data visualizations and Utah resident, the race isn’t about getting rid of Hatch, it’s about replacing him with Dan Liljenquist:
First of all, I don’t think Orrin Hatch has been a particularly bad Senator for the state of Utah. He’s been a fairly reliable vote for the right and, from what I hear, he’s a decent sort of guy. I have a “thing” against career politicians and, at 36 years, I think Senator Hatch meets that definition, but I’m not on a mission to take the guy down.
For me, the “Hatch election” has nothing to do with Orrin Hatch. It has everything to do with Dan Liljenquist.
I met Dan back in 2010, long before he decided to run for Senate. Holly Richardson, a Twitter friend, introduced us with a view toward taking some of Dan’s work and turning into visuals or videos that he could use for presentations. It was then that I learned about Dan’s incredible political career which, at that time, was hardly even 2 years long.
Dan was elected in 2008 and asked to be placed “where the money is”, so he got dumped into the “Retirement and Independent Entities Appropriations” committee, which was about as boring a place as possible. Except that “retirement” meant pensions and the Utah pension fund was (like nearly all pension funds) a heavily invested fund. Which means when the stock market collapsed in 2008-2009, so did our pension fund.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is definitely feeling the heat. He’s tried to pass off his record as “conservative,” but it’s hard to hide many of the votes he’s cast in favor of bigger government, including his support for TARP, Medicare Part D, bailouts for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and many bloated budgets.
Hatch is working feverishly to not wind up like his former colleague, Bob Bennett, who was sent packing during the Utah GOP convention in 2010. Mike Lee eventually went on to replace Bennett in the United States Senate. He’s picked up endorsements from influential conservatives like Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, and even got Mitt Romney to cut an ad for him. But grassroots groups, including FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, and Tea Party activists haven’t been deterred.
And yesterday over at RedState, Erick Erickson joined the calls to put an end to Hatch’s political career in Washington:
On many of those votes over the years, Orrin Hatch was no different from any of the other Senate Republican leaders. We’re now past $15 trillion in debt and Orrin Hatch voted for a good bit of spending contributing to that debt. Some of it was necessary, but much of it was not.