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Another GOP candidate on brink of defeat?

A few weeks ago, I reported on the rise of conservative insurgents who are challenging establishment Republicans in GOP primaries across the country. Among those in deep trouble is Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, who has drawn seven Republican primary challengers and faced a campaign of Internet ads and robocalls from the fiscally conservative Club for Growth.

A new poll just out shows that Bennett may not even make it to the Republican primary. He has the support of only 16 percent of delegates to the Utah GOP convention, putting him in third place behind Mike Lee (37 percent) and Tim Bridgewater (20 percent). If no one candidate gets 60 percent outright at the convention, the two top finishers will go on to the GOP primary -- which means Bennett may not get a place on the ballot.

If Bennett loses at the convention, the Salt Lake Tribune reports, he would be the first Utah Republican since Sen. William H. King seven decades ago to lose his party’s nomination.

The political ground in America has shifted. Bringing home the bacon does not cut it anymore. The junior senator from Utah is going to be a Republican, and activists on the right are demanding that he ought to be a fiscal conservative as well.

By Marc Thiessen  | April 27, 2010; 9:54 AM ET
Categories:  Thiessen  | Tags:  Marc Thiessen  
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Why elect a Democrat Like Republican?

We need to change politics in Washington and get back to Conservative principals of the founding fathers.

Can't do it with Democrats in Republican Clothing!

Posted by: Acornisascam | April 27, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I have no idea what this toad is talking about. I always thought of Bob Bennett as the typical fiscal conservative.

Look. If you believe that the American people are moving in the direction of the far right in Utah, a direction that is about as closely aligned with the John Birch Society and the Cleon Skousen crowd as one can get, then that tea you have been slurping up must be laced with crack.

Virtually every issue oriented poll I have seen over the past decade confirms that while Americans are concerned about the size of government and our debt, it still essentially supports an activist government that has a sensible, sane governing policy that protects us while at the same time keeps a decent social safety net that includes social security, medicare and a variety of educational benefits.

Senator Bennett may have had occasion to compromise with democrats to get things done but that is what governing is all about. The crowd Mr. Thiessen is describing here in Utah are a set of radical cranks who like their right wing counterparts in other parts of the country, want to take America back to some bizarre Gilded Age where government has little or no role at all in prtecting the public from the vagaries and ravages of an exploitative capitalism.

God help us all if America ever moves in that direction.

Posted by: jaxas70 | April 27, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Dems are buying popcorn and watching the show.

Yeah, Bennett is a radical RINO. Uh huh! Get rid of HIM! Make the GOP even CRAZIER. That will please the great American Silent Majority.

That's the ticket!

Posted by: rebeccajm | April 27, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

A little history: Utah has been distrustful of government ever since President Buchannan sent one-third of the federal army to put down the "Mormon Rebellion".

Since then, it's in the blood for most Utahns to distrust federal government, so much so that there's not even much of a debate out here. Democrat talking points really can't compete with generations of Republican tradition. Republicans who compromise with the Feds are considered liberal, but no one can get elected here without a conservative stance on social issues.

So I won't be surprised if Bennett is voted out for trying to govern instead of preserving the party.

Posted by: RoyanRannedos | April 27, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Bob Bennett is no liberal. Here's a fun fact: Every one of his seven GOP opponents wants to repeal the 17th amendment (that's the one that provides for the direct election of U.S. senators). As a Utahn that doesn't even like Bennett, these people running against him are real knuckle draggers.

Posted by: newsraptor | April 27, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse


I don't think I'm a knuckle dragger, but I would also like to have the 17th amendment repealed. It solved the problem of the "Senator from Standard Oil" but has had the unfortunate side effect of sidelining state legislatures. Repealing the 17th Amendment will make people think long and hard about who they send to their state legislature...because of the implications for the US Senate. I can't think of a better way to improve our federal system than repealing the 17th.

The people challenging Bennett may be knuckle draggers in other ways, but advocating for repeal of the 17th isn't sufficient evidence for me.

Posted by: boglesby | April 27, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse


This last session of the Utah legislature saw a proposal to honor John Browning of Browning Firearms with a holiday on the same day as MLK birthday. The head of the Republicans in the state senate was arrested days before the session--on drunk driving. (This same guy was behind tough DWI proposals). On the day the session ended, the head of the house Republicans "confessed" to his colleagues on the floor that he had hot-tubbed naked with a 15-year-old 25 years before and had paid her $150,000 hush money. Oh, and it came out he had been arrested the year before for a DWI--I guess his duties as a Mormon bishop had a time off clause. I could go on for pages. The Utah legislature is a bizarre haven for clowns and hymn-singing hypocrites.

Nope, I think I'll keep my direct election of senators.

Posted by: newsraptor | April 27, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Things get worse before they get better. Right now the advocates of propertied aristocracy (so-called conservatives) are enjoying a wave. Ir won't last.

Posted by: CitizenWhy | April 27, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I am a liberal Democrat but I think it would be a real tragedy if the Senate lost Bob Bennett. Overall, we need more people who are willing to look out for the best interests of the nation instead of the radical fringe. The Wyden-Bennett bill was a great piece of legislation.

Posted by: bigbaubdi | April 28, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I am a liberal Democrat but I think it would be a real tragedy if the Senate lost Bob Bennett. Overall, we need more people who are willing to look out for the best interests of the nation instead of the radical fringe. The Wyden-Bennett bill was a great piece of legislation.

Posted by: bigbaubdi | April 28, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Great. Let's have the "meth labs of American democracy" -- the state legislatures -- give us even crazier stuff than they do now. More idiots can go to Washington to make speeches and posture, without doing any of the heavy work of legislating. Repeal the 17th Amendment? What on earth for?

Posted by: barbarian_horde | April 30, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

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