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GOP candidates in the Tea Party crosshairs

The Tea Party movement is taking aim at Republican incumbents, including Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Olympia Snow of Maine, and Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Will it succeed in unseating them?

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Sen. Orin Hatch (R) of Utah, waits to speak during a Tea Party town hall meeting at the National Press Club in Washington, Feb. 8, 2011.

Cliff Owen/AP

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By Jill Lawrence

Newsweek/DailyBeast

Orrin Hatch is conservative by almost any measure, but these days that’s not enough to shield him from the right. There’s a credible challenger in the wings and a real possibility that the Utah senator could become the first establishment casualty of the 2012 season.

The Tea Party movement first demonstrated its clout last year by knocking off Hatch’s Utah colleague, Bob Bennett. Now the movement’s activists have served notice that they are displeased with several big-name Republican senators. Hatch, like most of them, is cultivating the grassroots, moving rightward, and hoping to fend off a serious primary challenger.

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