Sen. Orrin Hatch fell just short of an outright victory at the Utah Republican convention, meaning he will face a primary to secure the GOP nomination for his own Senate seat.
Hatch finished the second round of balloting with 59.1 percent of the vote, tantalizingly close to the 60 percent threshold he needed to lock up his party’s nomination at the convention.
He’ll face former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist (R) in a primary, a race in which he starts off with a big edge in money and in the polls.
Hatch’s campaign manager sounded a confident note about the results.
“Three months ago the question was, ‘Would Orrin Hatch survive a convention?’ Then the expectations were raised because we did so well at the caucuses,” Hatch campaign manager Dave Hansen told The Hill after the vote. “We felt all along that making it through the conventions was the first priority and if we got lucky and avoided the primary that would just be an extra boost.”
Hansen predicted a win in the primary race.