Orrin Hatch will have to run in a primary in order to secure the Republican nomination for the Utah Senate seat he has held for nearly 36 years. That’s because Hatch fell slightly short of garnering 60 percent of the vote at the state Republican convention. In the first round, Hatch won 57 percent of the vote. In the second round, a run-off against his top competitor Dan Liljenquist, Hatch won 59 percent.
The good news for Sen. Hatch is that he is virtually certain to defeat Liljenquist in the primary. For one thing, he will need only 50 percent plus one of the vote, rather than 60 percent. For another, although this year’s Utah Republican convention delegates are not as anti-incumbent as those who defeated former Sen. Robert Bennett two years ago, they are probably more so than the primary electorate as a whole.
Ultimately, there doesn’t seem to be much desire among Utah Republicans, either convention delegates or regular voters, to oust Orrin Hatch. Nor, given Hatch’s influence in Washington and his largely conservative record over the decades, does this come as a surprise.