- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Former Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, who was one of the first incumbent Republicans to lose his seat to a tea-party challenger in 2010, died Wednesday. He was 82.

Bennett assistant Tara Tanner told reporters that the death came from complications related to pancreatic cancer and a recent stroke.

Mr. Bennett was elected to the Senate in 1992 and won three terms as a reliably conservative vote representing the heavily Republican state, where he was widely beloved for his gentlemanly demeanor and support for local entrepreneurs.

Prior to entering public office, Mr. Bennett was the son of a former U.S. senator and the descendant of a family prominent in the hierarchy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“God be with you, Bob, till we meet again at Jesus’ feet,” former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a fellow Mormon, wrote on his Facebook page.

While in the Senate, Mr. Bennett rose to the status of chief deputy whip and was on the Republican Leadership Team. He sponsored such pro-life and pro-family measures as restrictions on partial-birth abortion and an unsuccessful effort to stay the District of Columbia’s gay-marriage law.

But his vote for the 2008 bank bailout and comprehensive immigration-reform led many in the then-nascent tea party movement to think they could get someone even more conservative.

At the 2010 Utah State Republican Convention, Mr. Bennett could only finish third behind Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater, both of whom had the backing of tea-party groups. Mr. Lee went on to win the Republican nomination and the Senate seat.

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Senator Bennett. He spent his life in the service of others. He endured well the trials of cancer in his final years. My condolences go out to the family, friends, and colleagues he left behind,” Mr. Lee posted on Twitter on Wednesday night.

Mr. Bennett is survived by his wife Joyce, six children and 20 grandchildren.

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