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Sen. Robert Bennett contemplates his future

By Mary Ann Akers
What's next for Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), the first scalp of the "tea party" movement, who got crushed at his state's GOP convention last week? The senator tells "44" that while he hasn't made any decisions, he is seriously contemplating running as a write-in candidate.

"That's one option on the table," said Bennett, whose base -- fueled by a movement that aims to cut Washington off at its knees -- denied him the GOP nomination for a fourth term.

But would it really make sense for Bennett, who clearly was repudiated by Republican voters in Utah, to make another go of it?

"There are all kinds of mixed messages," the 76-year-old senator told us. "People are showing me polls that show I win the primary handily if I run as a write-in. Others say, 'Forget the primary, run as a write-in in the general, then you can use the money you've raised for the general.'"

Still others, he said, "say, 'Ah come on, you don't want to be seen as a... as a... sore loser.'"

We interjected - "as a Joe Lieberman?" - referring, of course to the senator from Connecticut who ran and was elected as an Independent in 2006 after losing the Senate Democratic primary. Bennett chuckled and said Lieberman "has made it very clear he's willing to talk to me anytime" about how to win in the general after losing in the primary.

We wondered if Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who switched from Republican to Democrat in order to keep his seat, had approached Bennett with any advice. Bennett paused and said, "We have shared our mutual dislike for the Club for Growth." (Bennett, like Specter, was heavily targeted by the conservative Club for Growth.)

Bennett says he has "made a firm decision not to make any decisions for a while" about his future. Except that he will certainly write another book. He already has a working title - "Great Issues, Great Diversions" - and has had preliminary talks about finding a publisher.

The senator, who has until October 10 to decide whether to run as a write-in candidate in the general Utah Senate election, said his best advice to other incumbents who face a similar possible fate is: "Spend time with your constituents. Be in touch with your constituents. We thought we were doing very well until we realized the delegates were not showing up at my meetings."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  May 14, 2010; 4:46 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

Unlike that for general elections, there doesn't appear to be any provision in Utah law for write-in candidates in primary elections. There certainly isn't any provision in the Utah Republican Party rules for a primary write-in to qualify as the Republican nominee. If Senator Bennett declared his intent to run as a write-in in the Republican primary, one can be sure that a first class procedural dispute would soon ensue.

Posted by: butlerm23 | May 17, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Why do people outside of Utah think they can call our primary system "bizarre" when they don't even know how it works? It's a very reasonable system. In each precinct, one to three delegates are elected by those present at the caucus meeting. Every Republican is welcome to attend the caucus meeting.

In my caucus meeting, the primary point of discussion for state delegates was which US Senate candidate they would vote for. Only a couple of the nominees were for Bennett -- everyone else was opposed to him, and the two delegates that were elected by our precinct both opposed him. At the state convention, they voted for someone else, which is exactly what they were elected to do. That's a very reasonable representative system.

Bennett can whine all he wants about the Club for Growth, but that's not why he lost. He lost because of grass-roots opposition to a senator who has lost touch with his constituents, who is running for a 4th term after promising to serve only 2 terms, and who is frequently voting for bigger government.

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Posted by: buxieqi | May 16, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

The more the wingnuts of both parties pull their respective parties to the crazy fringes the more independents it creates.

Would love to see yet another independent who is not beholden to the religious right or the looney left ... bet we can really get some things done if we can jettison the weird fringes

Posted by: fjt123 | May 16, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The more the wingnuts of both parties pull their respective parties to the crazy fringes the more independents it creates.

Would love to see yet another independent who is not beholden to the religious right or the looney left ... bet we can really get some things done if we can jettison the weird fringes

Posted by: fjt123 | May 16, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Glad to see more moderate candidates from both parties running as independents ...

The more the wingnuts of both parties try to pull their parties to the fringes, the more independents it creates ... if the wingnuts keep pulling the parties to the fringes eventually we can just ignore them all together and let the moderates really run things ...

Posted by: fjt123 | May 16, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Bennett is a moron that needs to go and I've lost a lot of respect for Romney for having supported him.
Take your marbles (what are left of them) and just go home Bennett.

Posted by: akheaps76 | May 15, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

.
The USA needs her elderly Senators. We would be lost without all those octogenarians in front of the TV cameras, telling us how wise they are.
Nobody else can possibly do what they do. They are the nation's best and brightest; just ask them.
It's not that they are selfish; they stay in office long after they lose their senses out of devotion to serving us.
.

Posted by: BrianX9 | May 15, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Bennett should wave goodbye and go home.I feel sorry for him but he needs to understand it`s over.The fat lady is singing!

Posted by: bowspray | May 15, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

www.worstbankintown.com

Youtube: "Sophia Goes to Congress" to see a little girl pleading with her Congressman, Louie Gohmert (R-TX), to help her get her yellow lab, clothes, and schoolbooks back after the President of the Sheriff's Association of Texas with the help of inmates stole them and her family's other personal property and put everything in a storage building under Nacogdoches County Sheriff Deputies' names. How much more destruction must this family face before someone will help?
Renee' Culler

Posted by: worstbankintown | May 15, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Ah, the arrogance of youth. Bennet may be 76 but that number does not mean the same now as it did even 50 years ago. Byrd is a bird of another color. It is obvious he no longer has the vigor to physically do the job. Neither I nor the commenters here are privey to enough information regarding his intellect to comment on his reasoning ability.

In America we throw away the talents and learned lore of the elderly willy nilly. If we ever get back to the extended families this might change when children see their grandparents superior reasoning and the families reliance on their greater experience.

Bennet doesn't exhibit any evidence of senescence that I can see. I'm a long way from his political philosophy but he seems like a reasoned and reasoning man to me.

Posted by: sauerkraut | May 15, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I would take issue with Ms. Akers' assertion that Sen. Bennett is "the first scalp of the 'tea party' movement." That distinction would seem to belong to senate candidate and current Florida governor Charlie Crist.

Posted by: whatmeregister | May 15, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Utah's "convention" system of deciding who can and cannot appear on the GOP primary ballot is the worst kind of old-school insider politics. There should be no place in a modern democracy for this kind of antiquated machine politics ruled over by select party "gatekeepers." Bennett should run as a write-in candidate in the primary (and if necessary general) election if for no other reason than to point up just how unrepresentative Utah's archaic selection system is.

Posted by: whatmeregister | May 15, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

It is pathetic to watch self-centered old men like Bennett, Specter, McCain and Byrd cling to cherished seats of power long after they should have hung it up. Maybe Congress needs a mandatory retirement age. Even the Catholic Church forces bishops to retire at 75. The "princes" of the Senate ought to do the same.

Posted by: Rapvox | May 15, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Righties allow Fox & Frightwing radio pundits to move them farrrrrrr right - back to the 18th century, replete with white wigs, funny costumes, and teabags dangling from their hats. All because they believed the FAKE OUTRAGE performed by rightwing media entertainers.
Pitiful.

Posted by: angie12106 | May 15, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Righties allow Fox & Frightwing radio pundits to move them farrrrrrr right - back to the 18th century, replete with white wigs, funny costumes, and teabags dangling from their hats. All because they believed the FAKE OUTRAGE performed by rightwing media entertainers.
Pitiful.

Posted by: angie12106 | May 15, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: marine2211 | May 15, 2010 12:01 AM "...Byrd (who is still being paid while almost comatose and is 92)..."

What? You have a problem with a comatose senator? That's the best kind.


Posted by: mjcc1987 | May 15, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse

TeaBaggers will regret their efforts. NY, NJ and CT pay much more in Fed taxes than what is returned in the form of Fed help. NJ $1.00 Pd, .69¢ returned, MS $1.00 Pd, $2.02 returned. As a NYer I say let them complain and alter the tax schedule. I’m tired of feeding and clothing MS residents.
http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/266.html

Posted by: pooorpeddler1 | May 15, 2010 5:52 AM | Report abuse

Clearly Bennettt is timid like Al Gore.

Posted by: jimzluis | May 15, 2010 4:33 AM | Report abuse

The Teabaggers may have not killed Bennett, but they are certainly destroying the Republican party....to the delight of Democrats and decent Americans.

Posted by: analyst72 | May 15, 2010 1:31 AM | Report abuse

The Teabaggers may have not killed Bennett, but they are certainly destroying the Republican party....to the delight of Democrats and decent Americans.

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Posted by: itkonlyyou59 | May 15, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Time for ALL politicos who have been in govt. for eons to let go. McCain, Specter, Byrd (who is still being paid while almost comatose and is 92) and even those who are under 70 and have fed at the public trough their entire working lives. Let new blood take over and bring us back from the Pelosi/Reid/Obama cliff we are quickly going over.

Posted by: marine2211 | May 15, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

He'll just sign up as a lobbyist for all the interests he worked for as a Senator and make much more money. Not even HE respects the people of Utah.

Posted by: cms1 | May 14, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

He's 76 and would be running for another six-year term.

Forget the circumstances of his current difficulties; there comes a time in everyone's work life when it's time to say, "Enough" and make way for someone younger.

Bennett is way past that point.

Posted by: WhatHeSaid | May 14, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't even a primary, it was a whacked out party convention type thing. Big whoop! He should run as a write-in somewhere down the line and f-- them up!

Posted by: jeffcoud2 | May 14, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

"But would it really make sense for Bennett, who clearly was repudiated by Republican voters in Utah, to make another go of it? "

Huh?
He was repudiated by the wacko primary votes,in Utahs very bizzarrrrre system

Posted by: newagent99 | May 14, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

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