Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch faces primary fight


WASHINGTON — Sen. Orrin Hatch, a six-term Republican from Utah, has been forced into a primary battle in June after he fell short Saturday of the votes needed for an outright nomination during balloting at the 2012 GOP state convention.

Hatch, 78, who entered the Senate in 1977, will face former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, 37, in the June 26 primary.

Hatch needed 60% of the convention delegate votes, but on a second ballot he came up with 59 percent. Liljenquist came in second with 41 percent.

Liljenquist campaigned against runaway federal spending and stressed that Washington faces twin crises with $15.6 trillion in debt and huge unfunded liabilities that threaten future generations. He said it was time for “new leaders who have vision, passion and a plan.”

“We must address the ‘Big Three’ of our so-called mandatory spending — Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security — and do so in a way that keeps a safety net in place and also keeps our commitments to the generation of Americans who have been paying into the system their whole life,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Hatch urged delegates to give him another term to push for repeal of President Obama’s healthcare law and, should Republicans retake the Senate in November’s elections, put him in place to take the reins of the Senate Finance Committee.