Orrin Hatch snags Hannity endorsement

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch has won a high-profile re-election endorsement that will surely help him with Tea Party voters in his state: Fox News commentator Sean Hannity on Tuesday endorsed the Republican Senator on his radio show.

“I’m not sure if Clarence Thomas would be on the bench today but for you,” Hannity said, according to audio released by the Hatch campaign.

“I don’t think guys like John Roberts and Sam Alito would be there either,” he continued. “All the times you have been fighting for these Balanced Budgets over the years … what you’ve done for the Supreme Court which is impacting this country literally now for generations and decades … is why I’ve endorsed you for your race in the Senate.”

The endorsement is notable because FreedomWorks, a Washington D.C.-based organization affiliated with the Tea Party movement, has targeted Hatch, suggesting that it will support someone else who may be more in step with rank-and-file conservatives.

Hatch clearly is aware of the danger of becoming a target of Tea Party voters. He voted against the debt-ceiling deal in the Senate on Tuesday.

No candidate has stepped up to challenge Hatch yet, though Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz is widely expected to join the race. (RELATED: Exclusive: FreedomWorks will make Orrin Hatch first 2012 target)

This isn’t Hatch’s first big radio endorsement. Both Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, two well-known voices, have offered the Utahan their support.