Orrin Hatch to face run-off in primary

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 26: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) listens as other Senators speak during a news conference to unveil a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution on January 26, 2011 in Washington, DC. The amendment would prohibit deficit spending or tax increases unless approved by two-thirds of the House and Senate.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

(CBS News) Orrin Hatch of Utah overcame Tea Party-tied opposition to advance his quest for a seventh term in the Senate, but did not perform well enough at the Republican Party's state convention to avoid a run-off election.

Obtaining 59.2 percent of the vote of delegates at Saturday's state convention, Hatch will face Dan Liljenquist, a former member of the State Senate, in a run-off on June 26.

Although the veteran lawmaker easily obtained 40 percent of delegates' support to advance, he fell a hair short of obtaining the 60 percent support of state delegates necessary to avoid a run-off.

Hatch was forced to fight a tough race as conservative activists continued their push to elect new members into Congress. Furthermore, the group FreedomWorks (run by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, which organizes the Tea Party) has been working to unseat Hatch.

After Tea Partiers ousted Hatch's former Senate colleague Bob Bennett at the state convention in 2010 with ardent opposition from activists, Hatch strategically began organizing to perform well at this year's meeting, at which the most activist elements of the Republican Party participate. Hatch also moved his positions to the political right in an attempt to secure his seat.

Hatch is the longest-serving senator in Utah, first being elected in 1976. Throughout his career, Hatch has a history of bipartisanship, including his work with his close friend, the late Senator Ted Kennedy, on health care.

Conservative activists point to Hatch's support of the auto bailout and TARP - the Wall Street bailout - as reasons to keep Hatch from serving a seventh term.

Since the rise of the influence of the Tea Party in 2009, Hatch has moved his positions to the right, becoming a vocal opponent of the president's health care bill, especially the individual mandate - a policy he had supported in the 1990s.

Hatch is expected to do well in the primary, in which a broader section of the electorate is able to vote, compared to the convention process, in which the most active Republican Party members participate.

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for