By Cameron Joseph -The Hill
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 Utah state Sen. Dan Liljenquist in a primary, in a race where he starts off with a big edge 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. “We’re very happy â€” we’re ready for the primary and we’ll do really well there,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of work and effort but we feel very confident that the senator’s going to win the primary.”
Hatch had been a top target of FreedomWorks, a Washington-based group with Tea Party ties. The group spent more than $650,000 ahead of the party’s caucuses last month working to unseat him, but their initial goal of knocking him out at the convention fell short â€” Hatch outworked and out-organized them, touting his conservative bona fides and working for years to make sure that at the state party caucuses, which happened last month, his supporters would turn out in big numbers.
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