Utah senator falls victim to Tea Party activists

The Tea Party insurgency sweeping through the US Republican Party has claimed its first sitting senator, dramatically raising the stakes for the mid-term elections in November.

Bob Bennett, a three-term senator from Utah, blamed a "toxic" political environment for his defeat at the hands of the anti-establishment, anti-government movement in the party's pre-election convention.

Two Tea Party-supported candidates will now fight for the nomination in Utah, in a result that alarmed sitting Congressmen not just from the Republican Party but Democrats, too.

Disapproval of Washington is at levels not seen since 1994, when Republicans swept into power in the House of Representatives and hobbled the Clinton presidency. Senator Bennett, 77, had come under fire from the right for supporting the bailout of the financial system in 2008 and proposing a bipartisan healthcare bill.

In an emotional speech after he came third in Saturday's vote, he said: "The political atmosphere obviously has been toxic, and it's very clear that some of the votes I have cast have added to the toxic environment.

"Looking back on them, with one or two very minor exceptions, I wouldn't have cast any of them any differently, even if I had known at the time they were going to cost me my career."

The Tea Party movement, whose spiritual guide is the former Alaskan governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, has been flushing away moderate Republican candidates across the US.

It is organised loosely around policies of low taxes, minimal government and cuts to public spending. Senior figures have abandoned the Republican Party as a result of its growth.

In Florida, Governor Charlie Crist is running for senate as an independent after former state House speaker Marco Rubio overtook him in the polls with the support of Tea Party activists. Arlen Specter, senator for Pennsylvania, switched to the Democrats after facing a challenge to his re-election.

Some of the party's most famous names are fighting stiff challenges, including Senator John McCain in Arizona and Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader, in Kentucky.

The civil war in the party is forcing its major figures to tack to the prevailing mood. Rudy Giuliani, former Republican presidential candidate, said yesterday: "Obama has pushed the envelope so far, we need candidates effective in standing up to the inexorable march of European social democracy."

The Utah Senate seat is one of the safest for Republicans and Mr Bennett had been popular. The endorsement of Mitt Romney, feted for saving the 2002 Winter Olympics, failed to aid him.

The Tea Party's favourite candidate, Mike Lee, who came second, called for a new generation of leaders "committed to constitutionally limited government". Tim Bridgewater, a local businessman also promising to fight against huge budget deficits, topped the poll.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

h2 Recruit Ltd: Inside Sales Manager - Accountancy Software - £80,000 OTE

£50000 - £60000 per annum + £80,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Reading , Sou...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - BIM Software - £55,000 OTE

£40000 per annum + OTE £55,000 +Pension : h2 Recruit Ltd: An excellent opportu...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Commodities Brokers / Sales / Closers / Telesales

£10000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Investment consultancy firm sp...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is recr...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital