Many people are accrediting the surprising defeat of Republican Senator Bob Bennett of Utah to the Tea Party and affiliated organizations. However, some- looking more at Bennett’s past and political standpoints-argue that it wasn’t because Bennett was necessarily a “moderate Republican” at all- but in reality due to the fact that he was squishy on fiscal issues while taking extreme stances on many social issues. In the end, this did not win him enough fans in Utah.
The problem with Bennett was that he chose to put his “conservative” stakes in being anti-choice and socially extreme while voting for TARP and other fiscally questionable bills. Many Utahans, upset with the spending spree in Washington and increasing government intrusion, cared little about Bennett’s social stances. Instead, they were more concerned with sending a message to both Parties that liberal spending habits wouldn’t win votes.
Now, Utah Republicans will see if they are given someone who better fits the fiscally responsible role that they wanted in their Senate candidate. While Bennett can still find ways onto the ballot as a write in or possibly through an Independent bid, two candidates are heading to the GOP primary- Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee, who once worked with former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. We will see if these men keep in mind the lesson from this surprising upset: that Republican voters want real fiscal conservatives first and foremost, not those who run to the extreme of social issues.