Sen. Orrin Hatch's laser-like focus on getting voters sympathetic to him to Utah's GOP caucus meetings looks like it paid off...big time.
Roll Call says Hatch's campaign employed three-dozen full time staff, dubbed the "Hatch machine," to get sympathetic Republicans to those meetings and help elect delegates who will support him. That effort started two years ago after Sen. Bob Bennett was knocked out in 2010.
“A surprise can really only happen once, and Bennett unfortunately was first in line,” said a Washington, D.C., lobbyist with Utah clients.
Hatch’s campaign was open from the beginning about its plan to elect its own slate of delegates and oust all others. It was an aggressive move that already put him ahead of the game relative to the surprise awaiting Bennett at the convention.
“The level of effort to get the regular Republican voter to their caucuses ... and to stack those caucuses with Hatch people had never been equaled to this year’s effort,” said Jeff Hartley, a lobbyist and former Utah GOP executive director. “The money spent not only by Hatch but also by the state party is unprecedented, and it seemed to have worked.”
Republicans also cite efforts by the LDS Church to increase attendance at the caucuses as a key reason why Hatch may survive a challenge this year.