Bridgewater, Lee to Square Off in Utah Primary

Posted May 8, 2010 at 6:39pm

Businessman Tim Bridgewater and attorney Mike Lee will face off in a June 22 primary that will determine who will be the next Republican Senator from Utah, after Sen. Bob Bennett’s loss at the state GOP convention on Saturday.

The two men outperformed Bennett in a three-way ballot at the state Republican nominating convention. But after the Senator was eliminated from the contest, neither Republican was able to achieve 60 percent of the vote on the final ballot to secure the nomination outright.

Bridgewater took 57 percent to Lee’s 43 percent.

In comments to reporters after it became clear that Bridgewater and Lee were headed to the primary, Bennett said he “wished them well” but he did not make an endorsement. The only electoral path left for the Senator after his defeat Saturday would be a long-shot write-in campaign.

Immediately after it became clear that Bennett would not be on the final ballot, Lee earned a quick endorsement from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a conservative champion who has waded into several Republican primary battles this year with his Senate Conservatives Fund political action committee.

The winner of the June primary will cruise to victory in the November general election in the safely Republican state.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) released a statement Saturday praising Bennett’s service and reiterating that the committee will back the eventual nominee.

“This has been an open and spirited process and I want to be clear that the NRSC will wholeheartedly support the Republican candidate that primary voters in Utah ultimately choose as their nominee,” Cornyn said. “I am confident that this Senate seat remains in Republican control this November.”