6 takeaways from the Orrin Hatch raceApril 30, 2012
By: CHARLES MAHTESIAN
The news out of Utah isn’t great for Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch. But it could have been a lot worse. He could have flat out lost like his former colleague Sen. Bob Bennett two years ago.
Just as Bennett’s ouster in 2010 offered some early clues about the political climate that year, Hatch’s outcome – the six-term senator failed to capture the Utah GOP nomination Saturday and is now forced into a June 26 primary — provides some insight into the forces driving the 2012 elections.
Here are 6 takeaways from the Utah Senate race:
Mitt to the rescue
No Republican in Congress has embraced Mitt Romney tighter than Orrin Hatch. The veteran senator makes sure to trumpet his endorsement from the former Massachusetts governor at every occasion and even played the Romney card as part of his pitch to Utah delegates Saturday, arguing that they should vote for him so he could “be freed up to go campaign for Mitt Romney.”
It’s a smart move: Romney won 90 percent in Utah’s 2008 presidential primary and continues to have stratospheric popularity in the heavily Mormon state.
With Hatch now appearing on the same June 26 Utah primary ballot as Romney, the question is, how much more does the presumptive GOP nominee do for the senator? He’s already endorsed, cut a television ad and done robocalls for Hatch.
While there’s no better visual for Hatch than a campaign appearance together, the Romney camp will have to consider the risks of even greater involvement – such as a spate of stories, in the event Hatch loses, noting that Utah rejected Romney’s pleas to send the senator back to Washington.