Senator Orrin Hatch won the GOP Primary Tuesday night, defeating former state senator Dan Liljenquist with more than 60 percent of the vote after a campaign stoked by anti-incumbent sentiment. Hatch told supporters at his election night gathering that he was relieved that the primary is behind him.
"You know I’ve learned that you can’t take anything for granted. No matter how good you are, no matter how much you’ve done. There’s always going to be somebody who's going to find fault with you and I think that’s kind of good in some ways," Hatch said.
After forcing Hatch to his first primary contest in his 36 years, Liljenquist mounted an aggressive campaign. He attacked Hatch for not being conservative enough. But during his concession speech, Liljenquist's combative tone was absent.
"I want Senator Hatch to know he has my full support this fall," he said. "I want to work to make sure he's re-elected and also Mitt Romney is elected because I think as Republicans we have the best opportunity to change the course of this country."
In the more than two months between the state convention and the primary, Hatch only agreed to debate Liljenquist once. He now faces democratic challenger Scott Howell, but says he hasn’t decided how many times he will debate him.
"Well, we haven’t even considered it at this point because we do one thing at a time. We were very concerned about winning this race. I’m sure we’ll have a debate or two, there’s no question about that," Hatch said.
At age 78, Hatch is poised to potentially serve a seventh term. He’s already the longest serving Senator in Utah history.