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Tea Party Activists Defeat Utah’s Bennett

Small government conservatives bagged a big one yesterday, while cutting Sen. Bob Bennett’s ego down to size, making sure one big time Republican insider couldn’t even get through the state convention. But let’s face it, folks, if Tea Party activists cannot win in super conservative Utah where will they win?

Mitt Romney endorsed Sen. Bennett, offering an interesting back drop to this political story, once again cementing Romney’s Republican establishment credentials at a time when they don’t matter. In the long run it simply sets up an interesting question dynamic of what pairing for 2012 will satisfy the conservative base.

As for Bennet’s loss, Chris Cillizza lays out some of what kept Bennett from succeeding, which really plays into the hands of a long time GOP spending nemesis, Club for Growth.

[...] Bennett’s critics cited his vote for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) as well as his seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee — both symbols, conservatives said, of his lack of commitment to shrinking the size of government.

While state Republicans had expressed uneasiness with Bennett, it was the DC-based Club for Growth that helped crystallize that opposition. The Club spent more than $200,000 on a combination of television ads, direct mail pieces and phone calls designed to influence the 3,500 (or so) delegates who attended Saturday’s state convention. [...]

Tea party supporters from across the nation had targeted Bennett as part of the problem in Washington and, with his defeat, are almost certain to be further energized to beat other GOP incumbents and candidates who they feel are not representing the core values of the party. …

Bennett’s loss has got to be sobering for the establishment on both sides of the aisle.

There’s likely to be something stronger than cream in Sen. John McCain’s coffee this Mother’s Day morning.

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