SALT LAKE CITY — The fate of the long-serving senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch, is in the hands of 4,000 GOP delegates.

They will decide Saturday whether he becomes the Republican nominee or heads to a state primary.

Republicans are gathering outside Salt Lake City to cast their ballots, with the spotlight on Hatch's effort to win a seventh term in the Senate.

Hatch needs at least 60 percent of the vote to avoid a primary. He faces opposition from nine GOP challengers. His top two rivals are former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist (lihl-IHN'-kwihst) and state Rep. Chris Herrod.

Hatch has been targeted by many of the tea party supporters who ousted three-term Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010. Hatch is waging an aggressive and expensive campaign to sway delegates.