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May 08, 2010

Utah GOP Dumps 3 Term Senator Bob Bennett

There's been some low rumblings about this for while but Utah is not exactly the media capital of the world and Bennett isn't the most high profile Senator in the country. Now it's done.

Three-term Sen. Bob Bennett was driven from office Saturday by anti-incumbency rage and hostility toward Washington, becoming the first victim of the rising discontent.

The three-term senator was bounced from office on the second round of balloting, failing to finish ahead of attorney Mike Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater, who move on to the final round.

If neither Bridgewater nor Lee receives 60 percent of the delegate vote they will square off in a June 22 primary.

Bennett becomes the first Utah senator to fail to get his party's nomination since Democrats tossed out Sen. William King in 1940 over King's opposition to the New Deal.

When the results were announced, there was a huge ovation with shouts and yells of "He's gone! He's gone!" Delegates leapt to their feet, and embraced and waved "Do Not Tread On Me" flags.

You know who this benefits? Not Mitt Romney. He showed up today to speak for Bennett. That didn't work out so well.

This isn't blind throw all the bums out type stuff.

The opposition to Bennett is specific, and can't be chalked up to a general anti-incumbency fervor. Neither of Utah's two Republican congressmen are at risk of losing their seats, and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert doesn't have any serious challengers.

Bennett is under fire for voting to bail out Wall Street, co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill mandating health insurance coverage and for aggressively pursuing earmarks.

Bennett tried to reassure delegates he is a fiscal conservative.

"You want to get deficits under control. I have authored bills to rein in the entitlement spending that now makes up two-thirds of the federal budget," Bennett said. "I've already voted for a balanced budget amendment three times and I will again while making certain that it won't be turned into a tax increase for Democrats. Our tax burden is already too high."

Some delegates, who tend to be more conservative than other Utah Republicans, are also upset he's still in office after initially promising to only serve two terms when first elected in 1992.

Is anyone really buying the 'balanced budget amendment' crap? Guess not in Utah.

Freshman GOP Congressman Jason Chaffetz from Utah knows the score.

There isn't a revenue problem in Washington DC. There is a spending problem!

Normally this kind of thing would scare me a bit. I mean Bennett isn't the most fiscally conservative guy in the world and going much to the right of him would mean nominating someone not likely to win but, come on, it's Utah. Why not throw an insanely hardcore conservative out there? It's not like they are going to lose. It's Utah.

This might serve as a warning shot not so much to moderate conservatives in swing states but moderate conservatives in conservative states (hello Lindsey Graham!) that they need to get with the program.

Before we get to that point, we'll get lots of hand-wringing from MFM types about 'conservative purity tests' and how if a guy like Bennett isn't welcome in the GOP the party is doomed! Of course, they'd curse Bennett if he was reelected as another conservative drone but that's just because they are intellectually honest like that.


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posted by DrewM. at 07:04 PM

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