Sen. Robert Bennett lost his party’s nomination during the second round of voting at the GOP state convention Saturday, making the three-term Senator the first incumbent to fall in this volatile midterm election cycle.
Bennett finished in third place in the crucial second-round vote, garnering just 26 percent of the delegates’ support, well behind Tea Party-backed attorney Mike Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater, who will advance to the June 22nd primary.
“The political atmosphere obviously has been toxic and it’s very clear that some of the votes I have cast have added to the toxic environment,” Bennett acknowledged in a brief media availability with reporters shortly after he was eliminated in the second round of voting.
“Looking back on them, with one or two very minor exceptions, I wouldn’t have cast any of them any differently, even if I had known at the time they were going to cost me my career,” he continued.
Bennett was dogged by his support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and for co-sponsoring a healthcare bill with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.). To help make his case to the 3,452 delegates, he even tapped the star power of former Massachusetts governor – and fellow Mormon – Mitt Romney to make a final pitch.
But in the end, the furor stirring at the grassroots level of the party over spending and the growth of government was too much for him to overcome.
Read more here. Bennett’s stunning defeat should be a stark reminder to the national GOP. The GOP can’t “phone in” this election. It isn’t enough to have an R behind their name. It has to stand for something more than supporting just slightly less-big government.