Even though one Tea Party group says they will not push for his ouster, Sen. Orrin Hatch still may have plenty of opposition from the Right in 2012.
The Club for Growth, who played a key part in the defeat of Bob Bennett at the 2010 Utah GOP Convention, says they are withholding a decision on whether to challenge Hatch in 2012.
“While Senator Hatch’s activity in the 1976 presidential campaign is commendable, a lot can change in 35 years,” said Club President Chris Chocola. “Senator Hatch has a lower lifetime average on the Club for Growth’s Congressional Scorecard than his former colleague Bob Bennett for a reason. Orrin Hatch has done some good things over the decades, but six term incumbents who vote for TARP, the Bridge to Nowhere, the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac bailout, SCHIP, and higher taxes are quite clearly not ‘as good as it gets, ‘” Chocola said.
Chocola concluded, “We have made no decision about the upcoming Utah Senate race, but when we do, our decision will be about improving the Senate in 2013, not 1977.”
Sal Russo, chief strategist for the Tea Party Express, said he did not expect his group to work against Hatch’s renomination.
However, it looks like others in the Tea Party Express are walking back those statements by Russo. Amy Kremer, chairman of the group, tells Politico:
"While Sen. Orrin Hatch is certainly a very kind and decent man who is well-liked by his peers, he has also been a politician who has at times gone with the will of the entrenched political establishment instead of the will of the voters of his state," said Kremer. "There is great excitement and energy amongst Utah tea party activists about the prospects for a constitutional conservative candidate to step forward and offer an alternative to Sen. Hatch in 2012. If and when that should happen, we here at the Tea Party Express will evaluate those candidates.
Kremer said observers should expect the Tea Party Express to back a "constitutional conservative" in the mold of Sharron Angle, Joe Miller, Christine O'Donnell and Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul.