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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Bennett “Purge” Succeeding

This won’t come as a big shock to those who have been watching events in Utah, but a new survey of delegates to that state’s Republican Convention on May 8 shows GOP Sen. Bob Bennett on the brink of being denied renomination. Under Utah’s system, only the top two contestants at the state convention can proceed to a primary. Bennett’s running third, behind movement-conservative favorite Mike Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater, both of whom are blasting the incumbent for insufficient conservatism.
According to the Mason-Dixon survey of state delegates, Bennett’s favorable/unfavorable ratio among these partisans who will determine his fate is an abominable 28/61. The survey’s second-choice analysis also indicates that if Bennett manages to get into second place ahead of Bridgewater, Lee might then get enough support to pass the 60% threshold that would give him the nomination without the trouble of a primary.
“Bob Bennett is toast,” concludes RedState proprietor Erick Erickson, who’s been conducting an Ahab-level obsessive campaign against Bennett for months.
The message to other Republican candidates down the road is No Enemies to the Right! No Friends to the Left!
Bennett’s primary sin to conservatives was his cosponsorship (with Ron Wyden) of a bipartisan universal health care proposal. This should be a particular lesson to Mitt Romney, whose endorsement of Bennett in his semi-home-state did neither man a bit of good.
Meanwhile, having left Bennett for dead, the purgemasters of the Right like Erickson have moved on to new tasks, such as the destruction of former Sen. Dan Coats of IN, who faces a primary on May 4.
UPDATE: Nate Silver has more on the byzantine nominating process used by Utah Republicans, and suggests Bennett may still have a slight chance of surviving–but only a slight chance.

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