Ever since Bob Bennett was defeated at the GOP State Convention, Senator Orrin Hatch has been working hard to bolster his conservative credentials and organize so he doesn't suffer the same fate. He has even hired some of the people who worked hard to defeat Bennett in 2010.
Hatch may face a challenge from state senator Dan Liljenquist, but Hatch's biggest worry right now is popular GOP Congressman Jason Chaffetz. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that sources close to Chaffetz have said that he will seek the Republican nomination for Senate. Chaffetz has strong grassroots support that could help him overcome the money gap (Hatch has $2.5 million in the bank versus $180,000 for Chaffetz) and win the nomination outright at the state convention. If Chaffetz doesn't win at convention, he'll have a hard time competing in a primary given the huge advantage Hatch has in fundraising.
Utah will probably have 3 congressional seats without an incumbent Republican, which means we could have some competitive primaries. Since we're not yet sure how the redistricting maps will look, I'll just talk about who I think will make a run for one of the seats.
- Rob Bishop - He will have no problem retaining a seat in Congress.
- Carl Wimmer - He formed an exploratory committee early this year and claims he has raised more than $100,000 already. Recently Wimmer filed with the FEC as a candidate for Utah's 4th Congressional District. While he is a polarizing figure, he does have a lot of support from conservative delegates in the Republican Party which means he would be a tough candidate to beat.
- Cherilyn Eagar - She announced she was forming an exploratory committee for a run for Congress.
- Morgan Philpot - He hasn't made any official announcements, but many people say he's running again.
- John Valentine - When asked about Chaffetz' seat opening up the current Utah State Senator said, "