Big Test Set for Tea Party Muscle - Fates of Sens. Hatch, Lugar and Other Targets to Signal Staying Power of Republican Insurgency.
The tea-party movement, which roiled American politics in 2010, faces a new test of its promise to reshape the Republican Party with a push to create a new generation of budget-cutting lawmakers.
On Saturday, the movement is forcing a powerful veteran of the Republican establishment, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, to fight for his political future. In early May, the focus shifts to Richard Lugar of Indiana. The two Capitol Hill icons have been targeted by well-organized groups who say they haven't showed enough loyalty to conservative principles.
Mr. Hatch on Saturday addresses the Utah Republican convention as its delegates decide whether he qualifies for a June 26 primary. Failure to win 40% of the delegates would deny him a slot on the ballot, as happened to his home-state colleague Sen. Robert Bennett two years ago. But Mr. Hatch has a shot at winning the 60% that would clinch the nomination and avert a primary vote.
Mr. Lugar is in a shakier position in advance of the May 8 Indiana primary, his first difficult race in decades, amid signs that challenger Richard Mourdock, the state treasurer, is closing in.
Mr. Hatch, 78 years old, and Mr. Lugar, 80, were elected to the Senate in 1976 and are among its most senior and recognizable Republicans. This year, they are the top targets of conservatives looking to knock off Republicans they say have compromised too much and been in Washington too long. Their fates will go a long way toward answering a much-asked question this election year: Does the tea party have a second act?
And also see an article in The Washington Post about the following:
Two years ago, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch looked like a sure goner. Tea party conservatives were after him and it was only a matter of time before they got him.
But the six-term Republican from Utah enters the state Republican convention Saturday as the heavy favorite with the real possibility of securing enough support to win the Senate nomination outright, forgoing the need for a statewide primary. His standing is a clear triumph over the insurgent, tea party element of the GOP, both in Utah and nationally, and it has served notice that the establishment can fight back.