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VETERAN POLITICIANS HATCH, RANGEL HOLD THEIR BREATHS IN PRIMARY TESTS

SALT LAKE CITY - During the past two years, GOP primaries have ended the careers of several veteran Republican politicians who were backed by the party's establishment. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, 78, was seeking to avoid the same fate in his first primary challenge since winning office in 1976.

Hatch's race was the premier event as several states held primaries Tuesday. Among them was New York, where 82-year-old Rep. Charlie Rangel was running for a 22nd term, the first time the Democrat has faced voters since the House censured him 18 months ago for failing to pay all his taxes and for filing misleading financial disclosure statements.

With fewer than 5 percent of precincts reporting, Hatch, who was viewed as the heavy favorite against former state Sen. Daniel Liljenquist, 37, led by a more than 2 to 1 margin. Hatch enjoyed a huge resource advantage that let him unleash the most expensive and detailed campaign operation in Utah's history.

With fewer than 20 percent of precincts reporting, Rangel led state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, 57, by a nearly 2 to 1 margin.

Rangel, who has faced some health problems, told CNN on Monday: "I got a clean bill of health. I'm fired up and ready to go."

President Obama declined to endorse Rangel in this election, having suggested in 2010 that the congressman might retire "with dignity."

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