SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch won the GOP primary in Utah on Tuesday, handily turning back a challenge from tea party forces hoping to jolt the Republican Party again by defeating an incumbent who occasionally strayed from the movement's focus on shrinking the federal government.
Until this summer, Hatch, 78, had not faced a primary challenge since winning office in 1976. Former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, who survived a 2008 plane crash in Guatemala that killed 11 of 14 on board, won just enough support at the state GOP's nominating convention to advance to the primary.
But Liljenquist faced an overwhelming financial and organizational disadvantage. Hatch, learning from the defeat two years ago of his Senate colleague Robert Bennett, spent about $10 million blanketing the airwaves and building a campaign operation unlike anything Utah had seen before.
Hatch's race was the premier event in Tuesday's primaries.
In New York, 82-year-old Rep. Charlie Rangel won the Democratic primary, defeating Adriano Espaillat and three other competitors, in spite of a House censure 18 months ago for failing to pay all his taxes and for filing misleading financial disclosure statements. Because Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans in the city, Rangel is expected to win the general election in November.