Tea Party Movement Ousts Sen. Bob Bennett in Utah

Article excerpt

Three-term Republican Senator Bob Bennett lost his reelection bid at the GOP nominating convention in Salt Lake City. Other Republican incumbents are feeling the Tea Party heat.

The "tea party" movement has carved a major notch in its political pistol grip.

At the GOP nominating convention in Salt Lake City Saturday, Sen. Bob Bennett (R) of Utah came in a distant third behind two other Republican candidates vying for the Senate seat Mr. Bennett has held for three terms.

Bennett is generally considered to be conservative - he favors gun rights and tighter immigration controls, and he has a lifetime rating of 84 percent from the American Conservative Union. But he was targeted by tea partyers for his 2008 vote in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bank bailout. Bennett also had co-sponsored a bipartisan bill to mandate health insurance coverage (although he eventually voted against the health care reform bill President Obama signed).

The remaining Republican candidates after Saturday's vote - attorney Mike Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater - were to face each other in a second round of voting by the 3,500 delegates. If neither Lee nor Bridgewater gets 60 percent of the vote, they will face off in a primary election June 22.

Bennett's involuntary retirement from the family business (his father had been a US senator for four terms) reflects general political agitation these days - especially the growing clout of tea party conservatives and libertarians who've moved from raucous demonstrators to a movement that has increasing impact.

"The tea party movement has achieved a prominence in the conversation in part because of the silence from the traditional elected Republican leadership, and now that leadership has been driven right by tea party rhetoric," University of Wisconsin political scientist Charles Franklin told the Monitor's Patrik Jonsson last month. …

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