Sarah Palin abandoned her tendency to go with the Tea Party choice, instead backing six-term incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch over state Sen. Dan Liljenquist in the Utah Senate GOP primary and calling him “Mr. Balanced Budget for Utah” in a Facebook post Tuesday night. Liljenquist is backed by several Tea Party groups including FreedomWorks.
“Orrin Hatch is part of the 1 percent,” the statement reads. “No, not that 1 percent you’ve heard about. He’s part of the 1 percent of national politicians who I think should be re-elected. Orrin Hatch is a life-long conservative whose dedication and devotion to the conservative cause and to his beloved and beautiful state of Utah is well documented.
“Orrin was a Utah state campaign chairman for a fledgling and failing presidential candidate deemed ‘too conservative’ and ‘unelectable’ by the media. Ironically, that candidate was the man who restored our country to be a ‘shining city on a hill’ – Ronald Reagan.”
The photo with the endorsement is of a young Hatch with Reagan.
Palin praised Hatch in the post, writing “long before the issue of debt was on the forefront of Americans’ minds, Orrin Hatch knew our government would face insolvency if we did not get our budget under control.”
“We know he will use his seniority and influence to dissuade politicians from continuing to raise the debt ceiling without any plan to balance the budget and end these dangerously unsustainable deficits,” Palin says.
Palin has been on a mini-streak of backing upstart candidates over the establishment choices, including the Tea Party’s Richard Mourdock over Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana (Lugar lost) and Deb Fischer’s surprise primary win in Nebraska. She has also backed the underdog in the Texas Senate GOP primary, Ted Cruz.
But not this time. In her post, she writes that perhaps Hatch can show them around the Senate, if they all get there.
“We need Orrin’s conservative Reagan-like leadership – and our new crop of conservative senators Richard Mourdock, Deb Fischer, and Ted Cruz might need some friendly advice finding their way around the Senate,” Palin writes.
Before she posted her endorsement, she told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News of her intentions, saying, “I want him to win.” As in her post, the former Alaska governor said she is backing Hatch because of his commitment to a balanced budget.
Hatch is also endorsed by Mitt Romney. Palin has yet to throw her official support behind by the presumptive GOP nominee.
Hatch will face off against Liljenquist June 26. Hatch failed to clinch his party’s nomination at the state GOP convention last month, only getting 59 percent of the vote, shy of the 60 percent needed to avoid the primary.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said The Club for Growth had endorsed Liljenquist over Hatch. They have not endorsed anyone in this race yet.