SALT LAKE CITY — The Tea Party movement solidified its presence as a force within the Republican Party two years ago when it helped orchestrate the defeat of three-term Sen. Bob Bennett at Utah GOP’s nominating convention. But it fell short this weekend of doing the same to Sen. Orrin Hatch.
The different outcomes raise at least one question: Has the Tea Party lost some momentum or was it simply outflanked this time by Hatch, who had superior resources and tacked to the right on certain issues?
A national leader of Tea Party efforts, FreedomWorks, spent more than $700,000 through a super PAC to defeat Hatch. Yet, Hatch was able to easily advance to a primary and only fell 32 votes short of earning the nomination outright.