Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch is poised to defeat a rare primary challenge from former state lawmaker Dan Liljenquist, who has drawn broad support from the tea party.
According to a Deseret News/KSL-TV poll, 60 percent of registered voters who will vote in the Republican primary said they would support Hatch, while only 32 percent backed Liljenquist.
“Those are very good numbers for the senator,” Hatch campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said. “It’s nice that the voters of Utah, the Republican voters, have that much confidence and support for him.”
Liljenquist forced Hatch into his first primary in 36 years, with strong support from the conservative group FreedomWorks and former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
FreedomWorks has spent nearly $1 million on the race, with 95 percent of it going toward attack ads against Hatch, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
But Hatch has raised more than $10 million since his last election in 2006, and he has spent nearly $2 million since April alone, according to his FEC filings.
The Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association have also come to Hatch’s aid, spending $95,000 on ads in his favor and a total of $1.7 million on the Utah senate primary, according to CRP. Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has also campaigned alongside Hatch.
“Our biggest challenge by far is name recognition,” Liljenquist said. “We’re going after a guy who has perfect name recognition in this state and has reinforced it with $10 million of spending and big endorsements.”
However, Liljenquist remains hopeful that he can scrape out a victory despite lagging behind in the polls.
“Are we confident we’re going to win? You know, we’ll see. But we’re certainly working hard to do so,” he said. “Those are pretty tall odds, but we’ve really had a great time.” (SEE ALSO: Liljenquist debates cardboard cut-out of Sen. Hatch)
The winner of the primary on Tuesday will go on to face former state senator Scott Howell, a Democrat. Polls show Howell would win only about 29 percent of the vote in the general election against Hatch.
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