Sen. Orrin Hatch came up just short in his bid to win renomination outright at the Utah Republican state convention. Instead he will face conservative state Sen. Dan Liljenquist in a June primary. Hatch got a sliver more than 59 percent of the vote; he needed 60 percent.
Hatch backers are spinning it as a victory of sorts, which it to some extent is. The six-term senator will be heavily favored in the primary, which features a wider electorate than the conservative activists at the convention, and he did much better than the 26 percent Sen. Robert Bennett got at the convention in 2010, which wasn't enough to even appear on the primary ballot. But it keeps the Tea Party challenge to Hatch alive and some groups like FreedomWorks will reportedly remain involved in the race.
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