Prospect Looms of Bennett Write-In Candidacy in Utah
Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) changed his party affiliation last year from Republican to Democrat ahead of this year’s difficult primary race. Republican Gov. Charlie Crist recently announced recently that he will make an Independent bid for Senate in the face of a tough GOP primary challenge in Florida. Now, will Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) be the latest to run without the backing of his longtime party?
At Saturday’s Utah GOP convention, Bennett finished third in a second-round vote on potential Senate nominees. The 3,500 voting delegates instead supported businessman Tim Bridgewater and attorney Mike Lee as the top two finishers. Bennett critics, including the Club for Growth, had derided the senator’s vote for the bailout, as well as a bipartisan health care proposal which the Club argued “rivals ObamaCare.”
Bennett told The Associated Press after the first round of voting on Saturday that he would not rule out a write-in candidacy if he were to lose — which he did in the next round.
As of Monday morning, Bennett had yet to confirm whether he will launch a write-in candidacy, but if he does decide to make another go of it, he won’t have the support of the national party. “I want to be clear that the NRSC will wholeheartedly support the Republican candidate that primary voters in Utah ultimately choose as their nominee,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn said Saturday in what was effectively a farewell letter to Bennett.
Though Saturday’s 3,500 delegates ousted the senator, Bennett may fare better among the voting public. A write-in candidacy would ostensibly threaten the GOP nominee’s chances of winning in November by splitting the conservative vote. John McCain carried the state of Utah in 2008 with 63 percent of the vote.
According to the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s website, Bennett simply needs to file a Declaration of Write-In Candidacy at least 30 days prior to the general election in order to appear as a write-in candidate on the November ballot.