Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will likely avoid a primary challenge from the Tea Party Express group, National Review reports.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a 43-year-old Provo Republican, is often mentioned as a possible Hatch challenger. But as Chaffetz and others mull a run, they will not find support from the Tea Party Express, the California-based political action committee that propelled Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and others to primary victories last year.
Sal Russo, the group’s chief strategist, tells National Review Online that the Tea Party Express will not tangle with Hatch in 2012. “In 1976, when I was scouring the country trying to find people to stand up for Ronald Reagan, there were not very many in the Republican party that would, especially with the president being Jerry Ford. Orrin Hatch, however, stood up and was our state chairman,” Russo explains. “He is somebody who has been willing to stand up for a long time.”
“I think he was an original tea partier,” Russo says. “He has been talking about our issues from the beginning. Orrin is a Reagan conservative, as far as I’m concerned, and that’s as good as it gets.”