Utah Republican U.S. Senator Bob Bennett has announced his intention to declare his future political intentions on Thursday May 20th, 2010, and the educated speculation is that he will do the right thing and NOT run as a write-in candidate. Additional stories from USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. True/Slant comes right out and says Bennett will not run as a write-in. But Swing State Project thinks Bennett will run, because "despite the complex dynamics of a write-in campaign, he faces better odds with the broader electorate than with the narrow slice of extremists running the GOP convention".
One reason why it is not believed that he will run a write-in campaign is because he's making the announcement at a press conference to be held at 12 noon EDT at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) offices just north of the U.S. Capitol. Bennett wouldn't use the NRSC headquarters if he was announcing a write-in bid because NRSC boss Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has said the group will back the eventual nominee of the Utah GOP and not Bennett if he runs as a write-in.
So why doesn't Bennett just tell us now and get it over with? There are two other factors to consider. First, Mike Lee reportedly pissed off Bennett during the campaign, according to people close to the senator, and he wasn't inclined to back Lee going into the primary. But second, Tim Bridgewater is currently in Washington meeting with prospective donors in Washington and is not scheduled to fly out until Friday.
This leads to speculation that the announcement may include an endorsement decision by Bennett. Bennett could do one of two things:
(1). Endorse Tim Bridgewater. But considering Bennett's unpopularity amongst Republican delegates, would Bridgewater look upon it as an asset or a liability? The fact that Bridgewater got 57 percent of the delegate vote in the final round at the convention implies Bridgewater could defeat Mike Lee without Bennett's help. On the other hand, previous polls of all Utahns shows Bennett retains more popularity amongst the rank-and-file than amongst delegates.
(2). Remain officially neutral, and simply pledge to support whoever wins the June 22nd primary. This might be the better decision.
Despite his ouster at the convention, Bob Bennett is still well-regarded. We didn't reject Bob Bennett the man; we rejected Bob Bennett the Senator. Unlike Chris Cannon, Bob Bennett remains personally a class act from top to toe. But if he was to decide to run as a write-in candidate, he would destroy that legacy. He would split the Republican vote, and quite possible deliver the seat to Democrat Sam Granato in November. He would be perceived as opportunistic, and become a hiss and a byword in Utah politics. Bob Bennett deserves a better legacy than that. He needs to put Utah first, stay out of the race, and walk out with his head held high.