SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Republican incumbent Orrin Hatch held an early lead over fellow GOP challenger Dan Liljenquist in Tuesday's Utah Primary.
With only 43 Percent of precincts reporting, Hatch led over Liljenquist 67 to 33 percent.
Hatch barely missed avoiding a primary altogether by only a handful of votes during the Utah GOP convention in April.
With less than the required 60 percent of the voting delegates, Hatch was required to face Liljenquist, who benefited from TEA Party support.
It was that same TEA Party support that led to the ouster of Hatch's long-time senate colleague Bob Bennett in 2010.
Liljenquist hoped to get the same result, but Hatch's survival at the convention insured that the 6-term senior senator would not suffer the same fate as Bennett.
Unlike Bennett, Hatch saw the TEA Party influence coming in advance, giving him plenty of time to muster campaign contributions and support.
Liljenquist hoped to ride a wave of angst from conservatives who were upset with established incumbents who embraced bailouts and stimulus plans associated with the 2008 recession.
Hatch was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976.