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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch avoids revolt within GOP

Until this summer, Senator Hatch, 78, had not faced a primary challenge since winning office in 1976.

Colin E. Braley/Associated Press

Until this summer, Senator Hatch, 78, had not faced a primary challenge since winning office in 1976.

SALT LAKE CITY — Senator 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. Dan Liljenquist, a former state senator 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.

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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, Representative Charlie Rangel, 82, won the Democratic primary in spite of a House censure 18 months ago for failing to pay all his taxes and for filing misleading financial disclosure statements.

In Oklahoma, Representative John Sullivan was in a close contest against political newcomer Jim Bridenstine, who ran to Sullivan’s right and criticized the incumbent for missing hundreds of House votes in the past decade.

A few months ago, Hatch was considered vulnerable like Bennett and six-term Republican Senator Richard Lugar, who lost in last month’s Indiana GOP primary. But Hatch got a huge endorsement from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who said he would need Hatch in the Senate if he wins the presidency.

Hatch seemed to have an answer to every criticism in his quest for a seventh term. For those who said 36 years in office was enough, he said he would not be running again if it were not for the opportunity to serve as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee if the GOP wins control of the Senate. He also announced it would be his last term. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Democrats cancel N.C. speedway kickoff event

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WASHINGTON — Democrats have canceled a political convention kickoff event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and will move the activities to Charlotte’s main business district, the convention’s host committee said Tuesday.

“While we regret having to move CarolinaFest away from our great partners at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the city of Concord, we are thrilled with the opportunity that comes with hosting this event in Uptown Charlotte,” said Dan Murrey, executive director of the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee.

The move comes as party planners are grappling with a fund-raising deficit of roughly $27 million, according to two people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss internal party politics. With a party ban on direct contributions from corporations, the host committee has raised less than $10 million, well short of its $36.6 million goal, said one of the people.

Murrey said logistics, not costs, were behind the decision to cancel the Speedway event.

In January, Steve Kerrigan, chief executive of the convention committee, said Democrats were shortening their convention from four days to three “to make room for a day to organize and celebrate the Carolinas, Virginia, and the South, and kick off the convention at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Labor Day,” Sept. 3. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

Romney vows to keep up fight against ‘Obamacare’

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s ruling on Obama’s health care law may be two days away, but Romney on Tuesday offered a preview of how he will respond.

If the law is rejected, Romney plans to argue that Obama wasted both his time and the time of the American people by pursuing a policy that does not pass constitutional muster. If the law is upheld, Romney would argue that opponents need to elect him so that he can overturn it himself.

“If Obamacare is not deemed constitutional, then the first 3½ years of this president’s term will have been wasted on something that has not helped the American people,” Romney said during a campaign stop in Salem, Va. “If it is deemed to stand, then I’ll tell you one thing: We’re going to have to have a president — and I’m that one — that’s going to get rid of Obamacare. We’re going to stop it on Day 1.”

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the health care law Thursday, a much-awaited decision that could significantly shift the contours of the presidential race.

Obama defended the law.

“The American people understand that we’re not going to make progress by going backwards,” Obama said at an Atlanta fund-raiser Tuesday. “They understand we don’t need to refight this battle over health care. It’s the right thing to do that we’ve got 3 million young people who are on their parents’ health insurance plans that didn’t have it before. It’s the right thing to do to give seniors discounts on their prescription drugs. It’s the right thing to do to give 30 million Americans health insurance that didn’t have it before.” — MATT VISER

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