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Utah Republican convention: How Orrin Hatch (almost) beat back a tea party revolt

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IN PICTURES: Tea party politics

After Utah’s longest-serving senator spent a near record $5 million on the run-up to the convention, he still has $3 million in the campaign chest to spend if the race goes to a primary.

At the same time, national tea party-affiliated groups have been outspent by groups that have backed Hatch, including the National Rifle Association. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has also backed Hatch, an important endorsement in heavily-Mormon Utah.

Hatch has done several things right, says Keith Poole, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, including recognizing early on that he would be challenged, focusing on the nominating process and, in essence, going back to Utah and “punching noses.” The backdrop for Hatch’s vigilance has been the plight of former US Sen. Bob Bennett, the Utah Republican who lost to a tea party candidate in 2010, and Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, who is in the campaign of his life against tea party-backed candidate Richard Mourdock.

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