Utah Senate: Lee Not Ready to Endorse Hatch

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) appears unwilling to endorse Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in his bid for re-election in 2012 at this time, according to Talking Points Memo.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) spent more than a few minutes on stage together last night at a Tea Party Express town hall in Washington. But for some strange reason, Hatch’s impending reelection fight — which will pit him against frustrated home-state tea partiers and could cost him his party’s nomination — didn’t come up. It’s especially odd because Lee is intimately familiar with how important it is for an incumbent Utah Republican senator to reach out to the tea party these days. He got his current job largely because the man who held it before him, Sen. Bob Bennett (R), was on the wrong side of angry tea party conventioneers.

After the town hall, I caught up with Lee and found out why Hatch’s 2012 prospects weren’t a topic of discussion on stage: Lee is not interested in discussing them. Not only was he unwilling to call Hatch a tea party Republican, but he was also not interested in talking about endorsing the fellow Republican he represents Utah with.

"He is–uh–well, he was here tonight," Lee told TPM when asked if Hatch is a tea partier. "I look forward to welcoming him into the tea party caucus."

So you endorse him for reelection then? I asked.

"I look forward to him joining," Lee said.

There’s been no official word about Hatch actually joining the Tea Party Caucus as of yet.

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