- - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

SENATE

Utah’s Hatch raised $1.5M last quarter

Utah Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, 77, reported Tuesday that his campaign raised $1.5 million in the final quarter of 2011, another sign that he has no intention of following former Sen. Bob Bennett into forced retirement.

The Hatch campaign now has $4.4 million cash on hand to take into battle against a handful of GOP primary rivals, according to the campaign.

“The fact that we have been able to continue to raise a substantial amount every quarter is indicative of the importance that citizens across the nation place in seeing Senator Hatch take the helm of the Senate Finance Committee,” said Hatch campaign manager Dave Hansen in a statement.

Mr. Hatch was pegged as vulnerable in the wake of Mr. Bennett’s 2010 caucus defeat, but the six-term senator has fought to shore up his conservative bona fides and build bridges with the tea party.

So far five candidates, led by former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist and state Rep. Chris Herrod, have announced they will challenge Mr. Hatch for the GOP nomination.

Utah’s unique caucus/convention system is particularly challenger friendly, allowing the 3,500 Republican convention delegates to select the party’s Senate nominee. If no candidate receives 60 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters square off in a primary election. Mr. Bennett lost his bid for re-election when he placed third at the convention.

CAMPAIGN

Gingrich’s lunar ideas not lunacy

Newt Gingrich’s ideas about science may seem like fiction but experts say they really aren’t.

The Republican presidential candidate wants to create a lunar colony that could become a U.S. state. He has a plan to map the human brain to find out what makes it tick. And he’s warned about a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack that literally could leave America in the dark.

Several science policy experts tell the Associated Press those ideas stem from mainstream science. But they add that Mr. Gingrich has a way of making them sound way out there by first taking a small step, then a giant leap further than where other politicians have gone.

COLORADO

Santorum has $1.1M in bank for GOP run

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