The winner of the GOP primary on June 22 will be Utah's next senator.
His path to renomination blocked by delegates to the Utah state Republican convention, Sen. Bob Bennett announced Thursday he would not seek a fourth term via a write-in effort.
He had considered that path following his ignominious defeat on May 8, when he finished third in delegate support, attaining far less than the 40 percent required to make it to the June 22 primary ballot. Instead, businessman Tim Bridgewater and attorney Mike Lee will square off in the primary, with the winner all but assured of becoming Utah's next senator. The state last sent a Democrat to the Senate in 1970.
It may seem strange to think of the conservative Bennett as insufficiently conservative, but Utah Republicans had problems with his support for earmarks and the government's bank bailout, and his willingness to work with Democrats on health care legislation.
Since his defeat at the state convention, Bennett had refused to rule out seeking a fourth term as a write-in candidate ... until today. At a press conference held in Washington at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Bennett said that while he might have won, such an effort would have divided the party.
Only one person in history has ever won a Senate race on a write-in ... Strom Thurmond, in 1954.