By Gary P Jackson
Looks like smooth sailing ahead for Sarah Palin’s candidate in the Utah Senate race. Senator Orrin Hatch is leading phony Tea Party candidate Dan Liljenquist 60% to 32% in the Republican primary.
From Deseret News:
SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch has a significant lead over his opponent in Tuesday’s GOP primary, former state lawmaker Dan Liljenquist, according to a new Deseret News/KSL-TV poll.
Sixty percent of the registered voters in Utah polled who said they will vote in the Republican primary backed Hatch’s bid for a seventh term in the U.S. Senate. Just under one-third of the respondents, 32 percent, said they supported Liljenquist.
The poll, conducted June 15-21 by Dan Jones & Associates, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.
“Those are very good numbers for the senator,” Hatch’s campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said. “It’s nice that the voters of Utah, the Republican voters, have that much confidence and support for him.”
Liljenquist, who forced Hatch into his first primary in 36 years at April’s state GOP convention, said he’s not surprised by the poll results.
“Our biggest challenge by far is name recognition,” Liljenquist said. “We’re going after a guy who has perfect name recognition in this state and has reinforced it with $10 million of spending and big endorsements,” including the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.
Hatch has been campaigning hard ever since Republican delegates ended Sen. Bob Bennett’s re-election bid two years ago at the party’s state convention. Bennett’s replacement, Sen. Mike Lee, is a key figure in the tea party movement.
The national tea party organization FreedomWorks, as well as former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, have endorsed Liljenquist, seen by his supporters as a conservative alternative to Hatch.
But while Hatch reported raising more than $10 million since he last appeared on the ballot in 2006, recent Federal Election Commission filings show Liljenquist personally contributed about half of the nearly $800,000 raised by his campaign.
Pollster Dan Jones said Liljenquist has not been able to build on his convention success. There, Liljenquist won the votes of more than 40 percent of the GOP delegates while Hatch fell just short of the 60 percent he needed to become the nominee.
“I just didn’t see any movement for Liljenquist,” Jones said.
Read more here.
One of the likely reasons Liljenquist is having trouble gaining traction is his talk of raising taxes, in cooperation with the democrats, if elected. Senator Hatch has been strongly against such folly.