Tea party group spends $600K trying to oust Orrin Hatch

Published: Tuesday, March 13 2012 1:09 p.m. MDT

Tea party power players want to make an example of Sen. Orrin Hatch by engineering his political demise. To that end, tea party organization FreedomWorks has now spent more than $600,000 during the 2012 election cycle attempting to unseat Hatch.

"FreedomWorks, the influential Washington-based tea party group, is now waging an all-out war on a member of its own party: Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, whose defeat would send a major statement to establishment Republicans that the tea party has staying power," Politico reported Monday. "Federal records show that the group has virtually ignored incumbent Senate Democrats in its quest to take down the 35-year Senate veteran ahead of crucial statewide caucuses Thursday."

In the same article, Hatch campaign manager Dave Hansen responded to FreedomWorks' anti-Hatch bent: "It’s absolutely disingenuous for them to say they’re trying to elect Republicans to office and their No. 1 goal is defeating a conservative Republican. They’re doing virtually nothing to try to pick up (Democratic) seats.”

The Huffington Post reported Monday that Team Hatch is running a new television ad that features a strong endorsement for Hatch by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

"In a new television ad released Monday, Mitt Romney speaks up for Sen. Orrin Hatch ahead of this week's Utah Republican caucuses. The spot was his second broadcast appearance for Hatch in March. At the beginning of the month, Romney recorded a radio ad for the veteran Utah senator facing reelection this year."

Politico blogger Alexander Burns analyzed the state of Hatch's reelection campaign in a Monday post about the new Hatch ad featuring Romney's endorsement.

"The longtime Utah senator is in a primary battle with former state legislator Dan Liljenquist, who's hoping to mimic Sen. Mike Lee's path to the U.S. Senate by unseating a veteran incumbent. Romney has cut a TV ad for Hatch that's now starting to air. … Back in 2010, Romney also backed sitting Sen. Bob Bennett against Lee, who knocked off Bennett at the Utah GOP's convention."

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