Monday, January 11, 2010
Utah U.S. Senator Bob Bennett Sounds Off About His Four Republican Challengers; Club For Growth Says "Anyone But Bennett"
The Logan Herald-Journal reports that on Thursday January 7th, 2010, incumbent Republican Senator Bob Bennett held forth publicly about his Republican challengers for the first time since his re-election campaign began. They include James Williams, a small business owner from South Jordan; Cherilyn Eagar, co-owner of a real estate Internet marketing company; Tim Bridgewater, former Utah County Republican Party chairman; and Mike Lee, an attorney from Alpine.
And Bennett started off by politely dismissing the chances of Williams altogether, characterizing him as an unknown. “He claims he has a Facebook or a Web presence, and he claims he’s organizing with volunteers to go to the precinct caucuses and be delegates for Williams,” said Bennett. “We have not yet come across any sign of that activity, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going on.”
Bennett acknowledges that Cherilyn Eagar is a more active campaigner, but he tends to brush her off as a media creation. “Cherilyn Eagar has her group, primarily in Utah County with whom she is affiliated ... but she’s a little more visible,” said Bennett.
Bennett pays tribute to Mike Lee's extensive judicial experience and his constitutional expertise, but questions whether or not Lee has the moxie to "dirty his hands" with grass-roots political organizing. “Mike Lee is a lawyer who has been giving seminars on the Constitution, and some of them have been fairly well attended,” Bennett said. “Whether he can turn that group into a political force is something that’s yet to be seen.”
Interestingly, Bob Bennett seems to give Tim Bridgewater a bit of a bump, citing him as having the most political experience, based upon Bridgewater's past service as a county party chairman and also as the Western States Regional Coordinator for John McCain’s presidential race.
So it appears the Bennett campaign is performing a balancing act. They immediately write off Williams, marginalize Eagar and Lee, and gently bump Bridgewater. This implies the Bennett campaign looks upon Mike Lee and Cherilyn Eagar as the real threats, and are trying to neutralize them. Or perhaps the Bennett campaign is trying to induce Bridgewater to drop out of the race and support Bennett. But Bennett himself claims he's not differentiating between his opponents, and doesn't really know how to rank them. “Each one of (the other candidates) has a methodology and a strategy, and it’s impossible to tell which one of them has the best strategy,” Bennett said. “We’re still anticipating preparing and fundraising for a primary. We are also organizing for 60 percent. We’re going for both.” Delegates to the state GOP convention in May will be chosen at a series of neighborhood precinct caucuses in March. If any candidate secures 60 percent of the delegate vote, there will not be a Republican primary, otherwise, there'll be a primary fight between the top two finishers.
Comments posted to the various media stories indicate that although Tim Bridgewater is a "political pro", much of Bennett's opposition is now coalescing around either Mike Lee or Cherilyn Eagar. Lee's supporters seem to want a better version of Bob Bennett (Bob Bennett version 2.0), while Eagar's supporters want a DIFFERENT version altogether (Cherilyn Eagar version 1.0). But a national lobbying group has decided to insert itself into the race and stir up the pot further. The anti-tax group Club for Growth announced on January 8th that it is opposing the re-election of Bob Bennett, but did not endorse a particular successor. The Club for Growth claims that bennett is out of touch with the times and with his state, citing his "disastrous plan for a federal health care takeover" and his vote for the Troubled Asset Relief Program as part of the problem in Washington. Read the Club for Growth's full statement HERE.
On the other hand, both the NRSC and Mitt Romney have endorsed Bennett.