So, Orrin Hatch has been forced into an official primary by Dan Liljenquist after failing to get 60 percent in Utah's GOP caucus.
But, can tea partiers really beat Hatch like they did Bob Bennett two years ago? I doubt it.
Hatch will continue to bring up not just his potential chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee, but, despite how conservative Utah votes, how much bacon he has brought home the past three decades. And, despite tea partiers' claims to stand for small government, I suspect a fair number of them support it even more for states other than their own.
Remember, even Ron Paul has pulled this one, in defending the pork he's brought home to his Congressional district. And, unless Liljenquist gets more outside money than he has so far from Freedom Works, Hatch will have no problem carpet-bombing the airwaves. But, other than raising the "outside funding" angle, which could shoot himself in the foot, will he try to portray Liljenquist as too radically conservative in a state as conservative as Utah?
And, this isn't just about Utah. Should Liljenquist get the nod, Dems could consider putting some national money in this race, to force the GOP to defend a must-win seat AND in the hopes of getting Liljenquist to make a radical comment or two for national ad campaign airplay.