A large photo of Sen. Mike Lee graces the front page of the Politico website today in connection with an article that anoints Utah's junior senator as the "tea party's new role model" and "second-most important conservative go-to guy in the Senate" (behind Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.).

"A meeting with Lee is essential for candidates battling the party establishment. … For a freshman still learning the ropes of the Senate — and for someone who's never held elected office before — it's a remarkable role."

The article, which quotes Rep. Jason Chaffetz, focuses almost entirely on how Lee's newfound political cachet can catalyze fundraising campaigns for under-the-radar candidates and even lead to key endorsements. It also reveals that Lee began writing the balanced budget amendment he co-sponsors before even taking office.

In other news tied to Utah and the U.S. Senate, Sen. Orrin Hatch continues to come under fire from tea party activists. FreedomWorks, one of several organizations in the Politico article extolling Lee's virtues, has launched a "Retire Orrin Hatch" campaign that kicked off last week with a protest in Washington, D.C.

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