By DAVID CATANESE, PoliticoÂ
Sen. Orrin Hatchâ€™s expected bid for a seventh term wonâ€™t happen until 2012 â€” a lifetime away in political terms. But while itâ€™s impossible to predict the level of anti-establishment fervor or the staying power of forces like the tea party movement two years from now, there are plentiful telltale signs that Hatch may have real reason to start worrying.Â
Roughly half of Utah voters would vote for someone other than Hatch if he were up for reelection this year, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released Tuesday and commissioned by the Salt Lake Tribune.Â
And the same sentiment was easy to find at this yearâ€™s convention. Many of the same delegates who helped bring down Bennett signaled that Hatch could encounter similar problems with grass-roots conservatives who view any break from ideological purity as a betrayal of the cause.Â
â€œHeâ€™s toast,â€ chimed in delegate Saima Leon, when she overheard a reporter inquiring about Hatchâ€™s political vulnerability.Â
An institutionalist who has deep respect for the traditions of the Senate, Hatch has unquestionably compiled a conservative record by most Washington standards: Heâ€™s led the charge to restrict class action and medical malpractice lawsuits, supported a federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage and sponsored a bill to make it easier to carry handguns in the nationâ€™s capital.Â
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