Paul Kane
April 21, 2012

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.

Seeking his seventh term — which, if completed in 2018, would make him the second-longest serving Republican in Senate history — Hatch’s hard-fought campaign for survival upended the notion that the tea party had become the dominant force in the Republican Party and proved that even in today’s environment, old-fashioned political guile and determination can sometimes trump the rebellious energy of a grass-roots insur­gency.

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