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Utah's Bob Bennett faces stiff political test Saturday

Utah Sen. Bob Bennett could lose his bid for re-election this weekend at the state Republican convention. AP Photo/Harry Hamburg

Polling continues to show a deeply anti-incumbent electorate -- just 32 percent of those tested in a recent Washington Post /ABC poll said they would re-elect their Member of Congress -- yet no Senator or House member has lost to date in the 2010 cycle.

That could well change tomorrow as Utah Sen. Bob Bennett (R) enters the state party convention facing deep distrust (and anger) that could well lead to his defeat at the hands of a more aggressive conservative.

There will be three ballots to either pick the nominee or send the top two vote-getters to a June 22 primary. The first ballot will narrow the field from seven eight to three; the second ballot will slim the field to two. On the final ballot one of the two candidates must take more than 60 percent of the vote to emerge as the nominee.

Friday Line

It's a certainty that Bennett won't be able to win the nomination given the animosity toward him within the Republican rank and file, upset tied to his support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and his years on the Appropriations Committee.

The question is whether Bennett can a) make the final two and then b) get 40 percent or more of the vote to force a primary.

A recent Salt Lake City Tribune poll of convention delegates cast real doubts on Bennett's ability to do either.

Attorney Mike Lee stood at 37 percent while former congressional candidate Tim Bridgewater took 20 percent. Bennett stood in third at 16 percent. Roughly one in four likely convention-goers (28 percent) saw Bennett in a favorable light.

Should Bennett fall, he would be the first Senator to lose in a primary since Joe Lieberman (Conn.) in 2006. And, while the defeat will almost certainly be read as a sign of the anger at incumbents nationally, it's also worth remembering that the Utah convention process is unique and has a history of being unfriendly to incumbents.

Below you'll find our rankings of the ten best intraparty fights in the runup to the 2010 election. (Hint: Utah made the Line.) The rankings are based on a race's closeness, the involvement of national parties and committees in it as well as the impact the outcome will have on the overall political landscape.

Agree? Disagree? The comments section awaits.

To the Line!

10. Kentucky Senate (Democratic primary, May 18): Almost entirely overshadowed by the race on the Republican side, the primary fight between Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo and state Attorney General Jack Conway is a good one. Conway just dumped $300,000 of his own money into the race after an independent poll released Wednesday showed Mongiardo ahead by seven points. (Previous ranking: 8)

9. California Senate (Republican primary, June 8): Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's decision to wade into the primary on behalf of former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina gives this race a bit more of a national profile. It appears to be a two-person fight between Fiorina and former Rep. Tom Campbell whose lead to date seems based largely on the name identification he built up during unsuccessful bids for Senate in 1992 and 1998. State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore is trying to ride the tea party lightning but has failed to do so to date. (Previous ranking: N/A)

8. New Hampshire Senate (R, Sept. 14): Former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) is finally on television after months of allowing free-spending businessman Bill Binnie to dominate the airwaves. But, Ayotte is also having to fend off questions about her office's involvement (or lack thereof) in the oversight of Financial Resources Management, a failed mortgage company. (Previous ranking: 6)

7. California Governor (R, June 8): Just when it looked like former eBay Meg Whitman had built an impenetrable primary lead over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner there are some signs that the underdog is making up ground. Poizner pollster Neil Newhouse -- the man behind Sen. Scott Brown's victory -- released data earlier this week that showed Whitman ahead 38 percent to 28 percent, a far cry from the 59 percent to 11 percent edge she held in February. "Meg Whitman has been steadily losing voters and doing so at an accelerated rate as GOP voters increasingly begin to focus on this race," wrote Newhouse. Whitman's willingness to spend from her personal fortune can potentially blunt any Poizner momentum but the last month or so of this race is looking to be far more interesting than anyone initially thought it would be. (Previous ranking: N/A)

6. Arizona Senate (R, Aug. 24): A new Research 2000 poll conducted for the liberal Daily Kos blog showed Sen. John McCain with a 48 percent to 36 percent edge over former Rep. J.D. Hayworth. McCain's over-the-top aggression toward Hayworth would seem to suggest the race is closer than that (or that McCain is simply acting out of an abundance of caution). The x-factor in Arizona is whether the primaries that come before it -- Kentucky, for example -- embolden tea party activists to bring down McCain. (Previous ranking: 7)

5. Nevada Senate (R, June 8): Former state Republican party chairwoman Sue Lowden was cruising to the Republican nomination before she decided to advocate for a health care bartering system and then double down on that comment by referencing the olden days when you brought a chicken to your doctor to pay for services. (And, no, we can't believe we wrote that last sentence either.) It's not clear how badly (if at all) the chicken controversy has damaged Lowden but it did serve as a major distraction for a campaign trying to build momentum for the general election against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. (Previous ranking: 5)

4. Utah Senate (R, convention May 8, primary June 22): Bennett's political career may not survive the weekend. (Previous ranking: 6)

3. Arkansas Senate (D, May 18): Polling suggests that Sen. Blanche Lincoln's is leading over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. But, the real question is whether DC Morrison, the third candidate in the primary, will siphon off enough votes to force Lincoln and Halter into a June 8 runoff. Organized labor and the White House are warring in the race and a number of other national groups -- most notably Americans for Job Security -- are also spending heavily on influencing the outcome. (Previous ranking: 2)

2. Kentucky Senate (R, May 18): The central front of the "establishment vs grassroots/tea party crowd" battle within the GOP is happening in Kentucky. Ophthalmologist Rand Paul has run a surprisingly strong effort fueled by activist energy (and his father's national fundraising list) while Secretary of State Trey Grayson has relied on the endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Rep. Hal Rogers (Ky.) to build momentum. Polling is all over the map in this race although it's hard not to see Paul as the favorite at the moment. (Previous ranking: 3)

1. Pennsylvania Senate (D, May 18): It took longer than we thought but the race between Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak is finally living up to its potential. Specter has attacked Sestak's military credentials while Sestak is up on television now with a devastatingly effective ad that reminds voters of the Senator's long Republican roots and paints his party switch as entirely opportunistic. Polls suggest Sestak is closing the gap. (Previous ranking: 4)

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 7, 2010; 1:21 PM ET
Categories:  The Line  
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In Nevada, a few political writers (some privately) are starting to ring the death knell for Sue Lowden's candiacy. She was the golden girl before stepped in barnyard doo-doo. That leaves, 'my dad was famous,' Danny Takanian and nutzoid Sharron Angle. Harry may just pull out a squeaker, again.

Posted by: Sandydayl | May 8, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse


Greece - yes sir.
However, it's the best time to re-finance homes now.
With the downturn on Wall Street because of Greece (and Great Britain's deadlock and other global mishaps)
gives us a 5% interest rate at the bank.

Take it!!

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | May 8, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

criminey sakes.....bum fr*** egypt here is in a mess. John McCain AND J.D. Hayworth.

I elect to defer to John McCain.
Hayworth used to be a weatherman ya know.
And he did not perform for this state very well. Just loud whenever he got the microphone in front of him.

The x-factor in Arizona is, of course, the new immigration law.

Boy oh boy, I wish all of you could see some of the commercials McCain is coming out with.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | May 8, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe you left off Kansas. The primary to replace Sam Brownback between Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran has turned into an ugly name-calling, mudslinging, slug fest.

Posted by: kansaskid08 | May 8, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

The weakness of liberalism is clear from the reply to any argument.

If you dare disagree you must be crazy, stupid or racist. There can be no other explanation. Liberals feel no need to offer any other justification.

Weakness finds it's way into every facet of their policy, but especially foreign policy.

Posted by: Moonbat | May 8, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

How can you say polling is all over the map in the Kentucky race when every independent poll has Rand Paul ahead by double digits? Including three new polls that came out this week?

Posted by: sailingaway1 | May 8, 2010 1:21 AM | Report abuse

zouk is mentally ill and immature and that is the alpha and the omega of zouk

Posted by: Noacoler | May 7, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

zook was always unhinged, but he really went off the deep end when that poll result came out that Americans overwhelmingly blame George Bush for the state of the economy today.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 7, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

here's zouk, the economics doctorate who believes hook line and sinker in some cartoon-simple talk-radio formulations of economics, who expects eight years of incompetent mismanagement to be fixed in a week.

And these phonies wonder how we spot them

Posted by: Noacoler | May 7, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

In fact, government not only never creates jobs, it destroys them with the threat of taxes, regulation and bureaucracy.


Reagan-era applause-line junk

Posted by: Noacoler | May 7, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I suppose most investors were prepared for a more competent executive. Instead we have one who is over his head on every front - oil spill, Iran nukes, economic recovery, reelecting congress, cap and tax, corruption, diplomacy, everything.

after a time, we all just give up and watch out for ourselves. that is the current climate. It will pass when the utter bozos leave power.

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 7, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

apparently zouk you are truly dumber than we
thought. You have no idea about the turmoil
in Greece and the GB and German elections.

Again you seem really p.o. that 290,000 jobs were created under D leadership. We know since your photography business is slow, that you
preferred the good old days in 2007 when we
were hemoraging 500,000 jobs per month.
Keep betting against America zouk, you will surely be disappointed.

Posted by: leichtman1 | May 7, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

so you doofus liberals still think that government creates jobs. Is there nothing in your universe that government should NOT do or is just plain bad at?

does anyone wake up in the morning an declare "I can't wait to go down to the DMV today, to call the IRS on the phone, etc."

In fact, government not only never creates jobs, it destroys them with the threat of taxes, regulation and bureaucracy.

the beginnning of the downturn resulted from the realization in the market that Nancy , Bawney and Dudd were about to wreak havoc on the financial system. Small business stopped hiring and people started saving for the downturn that was surely to come after so many good years under Repubs.

the end of the process occured when business realized we were doomed to a communist present ident. the massive collapse happened almost immediately.

now that the havoc has been wreaked and the voters are fully aware of the dangers of liberalism, the outlook is better, the Dems about to be sent to the back of their own unemployment line in november. It is time for cautious optimism, since one branch will still be held by inept hands. but we had this problem before under clinton and most people consider the gingrich time to be very prosperous.

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 7, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Ideological disagreements aside, it's hard not to conclude that zouk is really, really stupid.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 7, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Presidency January 2009, I meant

Posted by: Noacoler | May 7, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

since March 2006. which coincides with the time that Pelousy took over congress. what does that tell you about the market knowing all.


more conservative "debate."

The 2006 elections were in November of that year, the Democrats regained control of Congress in January of 2007. And the White House in January 2008. Don't you know ANYTHING?!?

Bush was president when the economy crashed, and it crashed specifically because of two terms of junk Republican economics. Its recovery, glacial though it is, is attributable to abandonment of junk Republican economics, which some idiots *cough*you*cough* want restored.

And markets don't "know" anything. If you think a transactional system is self-aware then you should skip the shrink and just check straight into the hospital.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 7, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

the markets crashed b/c of problems in Greece and perceived European contagion.

Apparently Rs cheer when we lose 500,000
jobs per month under Bush and then whine
when Ds turn the economy around and actually create, not destroy jobs like your crowd. Certainly robust job growth is an anthama to the R cause and hopes for Nov.; betting against America is the R way.

Posted by: leichtman1 | May 7, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

We had the best employment news in four years, 290,000 new jobs added
since March 2006. which coincides with the time that Pelousy took over congress. what does that tell you about the market knowing all.

the congress was bad, but when it became evident that a liberal socialist would run the executive branch, that is when the bottom really fell out.

simple cause and effect in a market economy.

similarly, the bombers ramped up their attacks when the surrender, bowing and scraping policy came in. consider it another market with rewards and punishments. when there are no punishments......

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 7, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Even more worrisome for Bennett is how few second place votes he got in the poll. This means that even if Bennett makes the initial cut from seven to three, most of the people who voted for eliminated candidates will vote for Lee or Bridgewater. If this comes to fruition, there's very little chance that Bennett makes the cut from three to two. Bennett would need a significant lead over Bridgewater to have a chance of making it.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 7, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Its Mr. President to you, jerk !

Posted by: leichtman1 | May 7, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Well, Obimbo is setting some records:

Counting people who have given up looking for work and part-timers who would prefer to be working full time, the so-called underemployment rate rose to 17.1 in April. That's close to the record high of 17.4 percent in October and shows just how difficult it is for jobseekers to find work.

Another grim statistic: The number of people out of work six months or longer reached 6.7 million in April, a new high. These people made up 45.9 percent of all unemployed people, also a record high.

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 7, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Friday's report showed that all told, 15.3 million people were out of work in April.

added a net 290,000

so at this record pace, if it keeps up, we will be back to Bush levels of employment roughly in 52 months, halfway through President Palin's first term.

Berry lost it all in a single year and it will take six years to fix what he broke, in a best case scenario. It will take decades to fix the federal economy, which is also teetering on the edge of broke.

PS, I have simplified the calculations for liberal consumption. No need to take off your socks.

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 7, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Of course the stock market had a bad day. We had the best employment news in four years, 290,000 new jobs added, well above the new entries into the workforce; people who had given up seeking work have returned to doing so, paradoxically elevating the unemployment rate, which in this case is good news ,.. to everyone but the investor caste who prefer to get their labor on the cheap.

And, of course, to idiot conservatives who pray daily for bad news, kneeling and facing Wall Street six times a day.

The stock market always falls on good news for workers. Do I need to connect the dots?

Posted by: Noacoler | May 7, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Obamanomics still breathing down our necks:

Stocks slumped Friday, with the three major indexes ending in negative territory for the year, as investors mulled the Greek debt crisis in the aftermath of one of the most gut-churning days in Wall Street history. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost 140 points, or 1.3%, after seesawing in the morning, having gained as much as 59 points and lost as much as 279 points

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 7, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

The new Lowdencare plan? Chickens for Chest Wounds!

Posted by: landrycarl8 | May 7, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

cosign, d's post at 1:56 pm.

Lowden's "chickens for checkups" craziness destroyed her credibility and her candidacy. Try offering KFC to the staff the next time you visit the emergency room of the hospital.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 7, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Zouk, what's with the 6-7 nom de trolls.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 7, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

You missed a cizzler of a race in Colorado where the "other" Bennett is being successfully challenged by the popular Andrew Romanoff, former Speaker of the State House. The personable (and politically adept) Romanoff beat the pants off the moribund appointee of the outgoing governor in Colorado's recent caucuses and state convention. This "other" Bennett can only be rescued by the funding he has accumulated from the PACs and lobbyists. Are the voters going to succumb to the money once more? We'll see this summer.

Posted by: hlmorton | May 7, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Bread and circuses, backpack scare in Times Square, unchecked oil spill, stock market shinanigans...

...the crises du jour, distracting POTUS and Team Obama from the real terror threat from within?


"The scalar waves produced by the radio frequency directed energy weapon (RFDE) are capable of carrying multiple "subcarrier" radio frequencies that affect human physiology, at variable power levels (or "amplitude"). In effect, the RFDE arms security forces with a "God machine" that can manipulate, disrupt, or destroy the biological processes that govern the functioning of human beings."

-- Veteran Journalist Vic Livingston, from:
OR re: "U.S. Silently..." and "Gestapo USA."


Posted by: scrivener50 | May 7, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Now that's the stuff!


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 7, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"In the wake of the massive BP oil spill, Republicans are quietly attempting to distance themselves from the “Republican battle cry” of the 2008 campaign, “Drill, baby, drill.” Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) disowned the slogan on behalf of their colleagues Tuesday, saying, “That was not a Senate Republican phrase.”

Ooops! Time to look for a new empty-headed phrase...

Posted by: drindl | May 7, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

... and bumblingberry is that ace photographer of models, king of zouk.

Posted by: drindl | May 7, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

drindl: #4; No way, I lived in Utah for 13 years and I think the total number of Dems elected to Statewide office since 1990 is 2, Congressman Jim Matheson and former Governor Norm Bangeter. The 'Church' and minions will see that the appropriate candidate wins.

Posted by: elkofan | May 7, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, these are some very entertaining primaries.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | May 7, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Times Square bomb: If Pakistan Taliban involved, a 'game-changer'
Would mean the Taliban has joined alQaeda as a second deadly force on our soil

so Obama is a unifier after all.

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 7, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

"The x-factor in Arizona is whether the primaries that come before it -- Kentucky, for example -- embolden tea party activists to bring down McCain."

I don't see national success (or lack thereof) of the Tea people heavily influencing the AZ primary. Instead, the X-factor is whether anyone is motivated to come out and support McCain. There is huge enthusiasm in AZ for 1) the new immigration law and 2) other efforts to shut down or wall off the border. This is Hayworth's comfort zone. McCain is, shall we say, a 'recent convert' to these points of view. Can McCain match the enthusiasm level that Hayworth generates? Right now McCain's biggest strength is incumbency. Is that enough to keep the job this year? Or has he turned off voters with his position changes?

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 7, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

#9 -- look at the polls on Fiorina; she's sinking. DeVore will pull votes away from Campbell, who is considered by most Rs to be too 'moderate'

#7 -- Meg Whitman is one of the most leaden campaigned in history; but has still managed to badly damage Poizner. Brown will take it.

#5 --Hey, just admit it, CC, Sue Lowden is a ninny. She talked about this chicken barter stuff on several occasions, and just didn't seem to understand why people laughed.

#4 -- Will Bennet's loss mean that a Dem will be able to take the seat from an unknown R?

#3 -- Grayson/paul -- funny to watch!

Posted by: drindl | May 7, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

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