The 77-year-old Hatch, though, is better positioned than Bennett to retain his seat. He has worked hard over the past year to reach out to conservatives and has focused his votes and commentary on their greatest concerns.
Hatch's campaign also has enormous resources at its disposal. He already has more than $4 million in the bank. He has looked so strong that other potential challengers, Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, both opted to seek re-election to the House rather than to challenge him.
To counter Hatch's huge financial advantage, Liljenquist is likely to embrace the help of conservative groups that have strong ties to the tea party. FreedomWorks, a national advocacy group, named him its legislative entrepreneur of the year.
FreedomWorks president Matt Knibbe lauded Liljenquist's candidacy.
“Our activists in Utah have repeatedly emphasized that they don’t want another Republican in the Senate, they want a conservative," he said in a statement. "We believe that Sen. Liljenquist will be one of numerous conservative candidates who will be stepping into the race to replace Sen. Orrin Hatch, whose retirement is long overdue.”
Contributing: Associated Press
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