WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney will face a GOP primary battle after losing the Senate nomination outright from Republican delegates this weekend in Utah.
Romney could have avoided the June 26 primary election if he had won support from 60 percent of delegates at the Utah GOP state convention.
Instead, a state lawmaker named Mike Kennedy beat Romney Saturday as the choice among GOP activists to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch. Kennedy got 51 percent of the vote, compared to Romney’s 49 percent.
“We’re happy about it,” Kennedy said after the win, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Romney blamed his defeat on his decision to safeguard his place on the primary ballot by gathering 28,000 signatures to do so – the only one of the 12 Senate hopefuls to do so.
Convention attendees tend to not like candidates who put their fate outside the hands of the delegates. Activists have sought to overturn the state law allowing signature gathering because it weakens the significance of the convention, the Tribune reported.
“I know there were many people who were not enthusiastic about someone gathering signatures,” Romney said. But pursuing both paths “was right for me. I’m glad I did it that way.”
Kennedy is a doctor and a lawyer who pledged to shake up the status quo if elected.
“I’m tired,” Kennedy told delegates. “You know what I’m really tired of? I’m tired of business as usual in Washington, D.C. If you want things to change, you need to vote for change.”
Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor, sought to ditch the perception of dominance.
“Some people I’ve spoken with have said this is a David vs. Goliath race, but they’re wrong,” Romney said in his speech.
“I’m not Goliath. Washington, D.C., is Goliath.”
With Post Wires
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