A television spot that began airing Wednesday in Salt Lake City jointly praises Utah Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee for supporting a proposed balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
FreedomPath, a 501(c)(4) organization, is funding the 30-second ad. It was unclear Wednesday evening who is behind the group, but its purpose could be to boost Hatch’s re-election prospects in the Republican primary by associating him with Lee on fiscal policy. The television spot is slated to run on broadcast and cable television in Salt Lake City, Utah’s largest media market.
The initial buy was for two weeks and cost $100,000, although that could be expanded, GOP sources said. Hatch and Lee have both signed the “Cut, Cap, Balance” pledge, vowing they will only vote to raise the federal debt ceiling if, among other things, Congress sends a Constitutional balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification.
Many conservative activists in Utah are unhappy with Hatch, and the state’s unique party convention system could spell trouble for the six-term Senator in 2012. Under Utah’s system, Hatch must finish first or second in a vote of approximately 3,500 state GOP convention delegates in order to advance to the statewide primary ballot. In 2010, then-Sen. Bob Bennett finished third in such a vote and therefore was denied renomination.
Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater grabbed the top two spots in that insider contest, with Lee wining the statewide GOP primary in June 2010. GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz, popular among Utah conservatives, has indicated he will challenge Hatch next year.
The FreedomPath ad features a voice-over that thanks Hatch and Lee for supporting a balanced budget amendment, while showing their faces side by side at several points during the spot.
“More than $14 trillion in debt and counting; government gone wrong,” the voice-over says as the ad opens. “But two Utah conservatives are leading the fight in Washington to get spending under control. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee have authored the balanced budget amendment, legislation for the Congress and the president to balance the budget every year and stop spending money we don’t have. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee: Utah conservatives leading the fight to stop runaway spending.”