Orrin Hatch to face Dan Liljenquist in primary

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.

Orrin Hatch really doesn’t like libertarians

Over the last several months, libertarians have taken shots from all sides. During the Republican primary, Rick Santorum made it clear that he wasn’t fond of the libertarian viewpoint on nearly any matter in public policy and expressed concern about the philosophical influence in the Tea Party movement. Santorum even as far as knocking the Goldwater view of limited government.

More recently, libertarians have been wrongly attacked by Van Jones, a self-described communist and former Obama Administration appointee. During an Occupy Wall Street event, Jones called libertarians “bigots” and claimed that we are anti-gay rights; accusations that are completely false.

Now Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is getting in his shots.

Facing a fate similar to that of his former colleague, Bob Bennett, Hatch recently told NPR that he is “doggone offended” by “radical libertarians” that have gotten involved in the Senate primary in Utah:

This year, major conservative groups announced their intention of defeating Hatch — who they deemed too moderate. FreedomWorks has reportedly spent at least $670,000 attacking Hatch this cycle.

But the long-time senator isn’t sitting on his hands. Hatch told NPR’s Howard Berkes, “These people are not conservatives. They’re not Republicans.”

Gingrich bounces check to get on Utah ballot

It’s been a rough go at the Republican nomination for Newt Gingrich. He enjoyed a bump in the polls back in the December as conservatives were still trying to find a viable alternative to Mitt Romney. But when Rick Santorum was able to gain traction in the race, Gingrich struggled mightily, winning only his home state of Georgia and neighboring South Carolina to date.

Now that Santorum is out of the race, Gingrich is again trying to convince Republicans to back him. Not long after sending an e-mail claiming to be the “last conservative standing,” it was reported that Gingrich’s campaign bounced a $500 check to get on the primary ballot in Utah:

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich might fail to appear on the Utah primary ballot after a check for the required filing fee bounced, according to media reports.

The check for $500 bounced on March 27, Utah state election director Mark Thomas told ABC News, which first reported the story.

“Our office immediately attempted to contact the campaign and the designated agent, but no phone calls were returned,” Thomas said, according to ABC.

“We also asked the state Republican Party to assist us, but they also could not get into communication with them, although I do not know how they attempted to contact them,” he added.

According to Bloomberg, Gingrich’s campaign has had severe fundraising woes and is $4.5 million in debt. However, Gingrich insists that he is going to take his campaign to the Republican National Convention in August where he hopes to influence the party’s 2012 platform. After all, that’s about the only thing he can hope to do at this point.

Dick Lugar declared ineligible to vote

If you’ve been following Senate races this year, then you know that Orrin Hatch isn’t the only Republican facing a tough primary challenge. Dick Lugar, who has been in Washington since 1977, also has a competitive opponent in Richard Mourdock.

Many of the same groups that are targeting Orrin Hatch, including FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, are going after Lugar. But unlike Hatch’s race, where the groups haven’t endorsed, Mourdock has received endorsements and help through ad campaigns.

Lugar has his own self-induced problems to worry about. Part of the argument against him is that he has become addicted to Washington culture and no longer represents the interests of Indiana. It was recently alleged by the Indiana Democratic Party, that Lugar doesn’t maintain a residence in the state, rather lives in Virginia and rents a hotel room when visiting constituents.

Of course, Lugar’s campaign dismissed the accusation, claiming that the “entire state is his home.” That’s all well and good, but the residency issue just got a lot worse for Lugar. Yesterday, the Marion County Elections Board ruled that Lugar is ineligible to vote:

The Election Board has voted 2-1 along party lines to find Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican, and his wife ineligible to vote in their former home precinct. The two Democrats found that the Lugars abandoned that residence, according to Indiana law, and no longer reside there.

Lugar’s camp says it will appeal the decision because it disagrees with the board’s “political” action based on what it contends was a faulty analysis of the law.

Utah Senate race not just about sending Hatch home

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.

RedState joins calls to retire Orrin Hatch

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.

Romney takes the wrong side in the Utah Senate race

As you probably know, FreedomWorks and other grassroots organizations have been targeting Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in his bid for re-election. While FreedomWorks hasn’t formally endorsed a candidate in the race (others running include State Sen. Dan Liljenquist, a tea party favorite), they did recently come out with a web ad slamming Hatch for voting for $7.5 trillion — half the size of the national debt — during his time in Washington.

But Mitt Romney, who is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president, has jumped in the middle of the Senate race in Utah by endorsing Hatch and cutting a minute long ad where he claims that the state can “count on Sen. Orrin Hatch in the fight to lower taxes, to balance the budget and to repeal the federal government takeover of health care”:

Club for Growth endorses Richard Mourdock

Looking for another shake-up of the Republican establishment in the United States Senate, the Club for Growth has endorsed Richard Mourdock in his bid to unseat Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN). The Club released this statement on Tuesday:

The Club for Growth PAC today announced that it is endorsing Richard Mourdock for United States Senate in Indiana. The seat is currently held by incumbent Republican Senator Richard Lugar.

“After thirty-six years in Washington, it’s time to send Richard Lugar home,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “Richard Lugar has served honorably, but he’s been part of the problem in Washington. He’s voted for bigger government, more spending, and he even recently voted against a permanent ban on congressional pork. Richard Mourdock will vote to limit government, repeal ObamaCare, and will help bring back the jobs lost to the Obama’s economic policies. The Club for Growth PAC proudly endorses Richard Mourdock for United States Senate.”

The Club was influential two years ago in primary races in Utah and Pennsylvania that led to incumbents being tossed out of office over more fiscally conservative challengers. Their rationale for getting involved in this race is that Lugar has aligned himself against taxpayers too many times:

Recently, Lugar was one of only thirteen Republicans to join Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid in voting against a permanent ban on earmarks.

That was the final straw for the Club for Growth PAC, which has now endorsed Lugar’s conservative challenger, Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock.

High School Team Name “Cougars” Deemed Offensive

After years of hearing backlash against team names like Redskins and Braves, which opponents claimed demaned Native Americans, I thought we had kind of moved past this.  I really, really should know better by now.

Sensitivity and political correctness regarding the names of athletic teams has officially reached a ridiculous peak.

KSTU-TV in Utah reports that a new high school’s hope to call its team the Cougars was rejected because … wait for it … the Victorian-minded members of the school board thought it would be offensive to some middle-aged women.

Cougar, of course, has become a working term for older women who chase considerably younger men. But long before that usage inspired Courteney Cox’s Cougar Town TV show the noble cougar served as a mascot for Washington State and the University of Houston.

First of all, most of the “cougars” I know are rather proud of the term, though I suppose there are some who aren’t.  However, no one is painting a 40 year old woman in a slinky black dress holding a martini on a football helmet here. We’re talking about a large feline.

In this nation, people have a right to say they are offended by the name of a team, just like we have the right to mock them for that opinion if we so wish.  However, people don’t have a right to not be offended, especially when it’s pretty damn clear that no one was referring to them in the first place.

Dan Liljenquist likely to make a primary bid against Orrin Hatch

Even though Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) decided against a primary challenge, it doesn’t mean that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is out of the woods. It looks as though State Sen. Dan Liljenquist will make a run against Hatch, according to a recent interview:

“God bless Orrin Hatch for his service to the state,” he said in the interview. “But we have a different philosophy on what the federal government should and should not do.”

Previewing what would likely be a line of attack against Hatch in a campaign, Liljenquist said Hatch was “advocating in the early nineties for the individual mandate, that the federal government role was to drive people into insurance products.”

“To me, I’m looking for leadership. And I haven’t seen it,” he said.
Liljenquist, who studied at Brigham Young University and later went to law school at the University of Chicago, said entitlement reform would “absolutely” play a major role in his campaign if he runs.

Liljenquist has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president.

“In the state of Utah, Romney is very well respected for what he did on the Olympics,” he said.

Liljenquist said he and his wife will make a decision about getting in the race by the end of the month and an announcement will be made by early next year.

The biggest consideration is how a campaign will affect his six kids, he said.

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