Liljenquist and Herrod argued for new leadership in Washington. They said Hatch had his chance to push through meaningful reforms on entitlement programs and to rein in government spending.
This year's race essentially began in 2010, when Bennett was ousted by delegates fueled by tea party politics.
Hatch immediately recognized the challenge he would likely face from those groups and launched one of the most well-organized and expensive campaigns in the state's history. Since the beginning of 2011, he has spent more than $5 million — and he still has $3 million to spend on a primary. Hatch used his vast financial resources to build a formidable campaign team that consisted of former state GOP leaders as well as some of the tea party supporters who helped orchestrate Bennett's defeat.
Hatch also shifted to the right rhetorically and with his voting record over the past two years to address the claims that he was not conservative enough.
Bennett's loss frustrated many Republicans, who believed that a vocal minority hijacked the nomination process. This year, turnout at the neighborhood caucus meetings more than doubled and many attendees said they wanted to make sure Hatch wasn't treated in the same way.
Grant Warner of Salt Lake City said he supported Bennett two years ago and that he also supported Hatch. He said that he didn't agree with all of the votes Hatch had cast, but he agreed with most of them.
"We don't want to do what they did two years ago — throw our people with seniority out the door," Warner said.
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