SALT LAKE CITY — Former state senator Scott Howell was selected the Utah Democratic Party's candidate for U.S. Senate Saturday. He will face Republican incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch or former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, who will face off in a primary.
Howell won on the first round of voting by convention delegates, garnering 63 percent of the vote over challenger Pete Ashdown.
Howell, who said he had only been in the race 30 days, believes moderate Republicans and Democrats will join together to defeat the eventual Republican candidate.
Both Howell and Ashdown, while speaking to reporters earlier Saturday, assumed the GOP opponent would be Hatch, who was less than one percent shy of the 60 percent needed to avoid a GOP primary.
Howell told a small gathering of delegates that he can commit fulltime to campaigning against Utah's senior senator. "You cannot be a part-time candidate when you're running against Orrin Hatch." Howell made the remark before knowing the outcome of the GOP convention race.
Ashdown told the Deseret News he believed his campaign would be effective against Orrin Hatch because it is "appealing on a national basis."
Hatch's races have been largely funded by special interests, which is an affront to most Americans, he said.
"I think he's an example of everything I'm fighting against," he said.
Earlier Saturday, Democratic National Committee member and former Salt Lake County Councilman Joe Hatch remarked on Hatch's long tenure in the Senate. Recently, he said, as someone was clearing out an old desk once occupied by Hatch, he "found the actual stagecoach ticket he used to come here from Pittsburgh."