The Spectacle Blog

Weekend Political Wrap-Up

By on 4.22.12 | 3:02PM

1. Thirty-two votes. That's all Orrin Hatch needed to clinch the nomination for a seventh term at the Utah Republican State Convention this weekend. Instead he'll be forced into a June primary. He's still heavily favored to win, but I wondered if Hatch made a mistake by attacking his opponents as "radical libertarians" right as the tide was turning in his favor. The senator later backtracked.

2. The biggest upset at the Utah GOP gathering came in the race for the 4th district congressional nomination. Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love stole the show with her speech and then clinched on the second ballot, taking over 70 percent of the vote. The likeliest outcome going into the convention was a primary between Love and Carl Wimmer, a former state legislator who had been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Mike Lee and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. Shurtleff's backing turned out to be less of a blessing than a curse.

Love had already brought down the house and won endorsements from opponents who were eliminated on the first ballot. Speaking in support of Wimmer, Shurtleff advised Utah Republicans to "pick a person with a proven record" rather than a "novelty." Love, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, is black. The crowd booed and some felt it put Love over the top. Shurtleff apologized, Wimmer endorsed the nominee, and Love will now get a chance to take on Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson this fall.

3. Virgil Goode won the Constitution Party presidential nomination this weekend. The former Virginia congressman -- who had previously been elected as a Democrat, independent, and Republican -- is the conservative third party's most politically experienced nominee. Unlike Alan Keyes four years ago, Goode was able to overcome his record of supporting the Iraq war and the Patriot Act. The Constitution Party opposes both policies. Darrell Castle, the party's 2008 vice presidential nominee, made a last-ditch effort to derail Goode but came up short in his own bid for the nomination.

4. Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary lost much of its luster once native son Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign, but it will still be worth noting how large the anti-Mitt Romney vote will be. I'm not aware of any polls that have been done at the state level since Santorum called it quits. In 2004, Howard Dean managed to win his home state of Vermont after he had already ended his presidential bid. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, who were both born in Pennsylvania, are still in the race.

5. On Friday, there was speculation that Gingrich wouldn't be in the race much longer when word came that campaign stops in North Carolina and elsewhere were on hold. The campaign later blamed a "communications glitch" and confirmed that they will press on. Romney has struggled in Southern states on his way to the Republican nomination.

6. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia isn't sure he will vote for Barack Obama in November, though he says he isn't sold on Romney either. “I am just waiting for it to play out. I am not jumping in one way or another," he said. "I'm worried about me." Manchin is running for reelection this year in a state Obama is almost certain to lose.

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