SALT LAKE CITY — It was just too hot to touch.

Despite sometimes-heated rhetoric, a proposed anti-affirmative action constitutional amendment faded away after failing to gather enough votes to ensure a quick and painless debate in the Utah Legislature.

As first reported by the Deseret News, a handful of Republican holdouts refused to support the bill, keeping it from gaining the two-thirds vote needed for passage.

With priority issues such as the budget on the schedule, House Republican leadership did not want an ideological fist fight consuming precious time in the final days of the session, said Jeff Hartley, who lobbied in support of the measure.

"Leadership needs moderate votes to pass the budget and other bills. … They just didn't want to have that fight on the floor," he said.

Up to the last day of the session, lobbyists for California activist Ward Connerly pushed dissenting Republicans to support the measure after House leaders refused to bring it to the floor without at least 50 confirmed supporters.

Despite the measure's failure this session, the resolution remains an option for future sessions.