Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) is in a serious fight for his political survival. His is currently getting challenged from the right by several Republican candidates who think he is too liberal to be the Republican nominee for Senate. The recent enactment of the health insurance reform law and the anti-individual mandate effort it stirred up could turn out to be a real liability for Bennett.
Prominent conservatives, like Erick Erickson, have realized that Bennett was for the individual mandate before he was against it. Bennett helped write the Wyden-Bennett health care reform proposal, which was built on the core idea of forcing everyone to buy health insurance. Since Democrats decided to include it in their health care plan, this idea has become very unpopular with the Republican base and elected officials. Powerful groups on the righ,t like the Club for Growth, have been using Bennett’s support of the individual mandate in attacks against him.
Utah uses a multi-stage caucus process to choose nominees, potentially giving a relatively small number of highly-driven activists the ability to have a large impact. Last night was the first step in the process where local caucuses choose delegates to attend the party convention on May 8th.
The Republican caucus last night saw very high turnout and we should know the result of this afternoon. If Bennett fails to win the nomination over the course of the caucusing process, he may ironically be the first victim of the anti-individual mandate push from the right.