Mitt Romney will head to a primary in the Utah Senate race after falling short of the threshold needed to win the nomination at the GOP convention Saturday.
Romney had hoped to garner 60 percent of the delegate votes to win the nomination, but 51 percent backed state Rep. Mike Kennedy instead, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Romney garnered 49 percent of the vote.
The 2012 Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor is considered the favorite to succeed retiring Sen. Orrin G. Hatch. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rate the race Solid Republican.
The Tribune reported that Romney blamed the results on discontent with his decision to also gather signatures to secure a spot on the primary ballot. Conservatives have opposed the signature process since it diminishes the sway of the convention. Romney was the only GOP Senate candidate to gather enough signatures to qualify for the primary.
A dozen candidates faced off at the convention, and after two rounds of voting Kennedy and Romney were the only two left. The Tribune reported that Kennedy earned applause when he offered to sweep confetti off the arena floor. He tweeted a picture of himself doing so, and said, “Now let’s go clean up Washington!”
Romney also took to Twitter to thank his supporters, adding, “I appreciate the support I received and look forward to the primary election.”
The primary election is June 26.
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