Bennett supported the TARP Bailouts, and had worked with Democrat Ron Wyden on Health Care. Despite pleading for a shot at being re-elected, Republicans instead sent Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater on to a Primary on June 22.
The national "tea party" movement toppled its first incumbent Saturday as long-serving Sen. Robert F. Bennett was defeated at the Utah Republican Party's nominating convention, the most powerful demonstration yet of the anti-Washington tide that is altering the nation's political landscape.
Bennett, seeking a fourth term after 18 years in office, became the first sitting senator to fall in the ideological battle being waged in his party. Although he has long been viewed as a reliable conservative with deep Mormon roots, Republicans rallied behind two other candidates -- neither of whom has held political office -- who will compete for the nomination at a June primary.
National tea party organizers embraced the victory as a major first step toward returning the Republican Party to its conservative foundations of limited government and low taxes. At the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, tea party activists cheered and celebrated after Bennett lost.
"This is a symbol that the tea party movement and the broader limited-government agenda is huge," said Brendan Steinhauser, grass-roots director for the national tea party organization FreedomWorks, which set up a booth at the convention to herald Bennett's defeat. "It's the center of American politics. It's everything that we've been saying it is. It's not just a protest movement; it's a political force." . . . READ MORE
Now we'll see if Bennett decides to call it a career, or if he will run a "write-in" candidacy in the Fall, which could be tough for Republicans since he is more popular with Republicans at large in the state than he is with those voting at the convention.