Republican Sen. Robert Bennett was one of the most powerful and likable members of the Senate, he diligently protected Utah’s interests from his post in GOP leadership and he funneled millions of dollars back to his state as an appropriator.
But Utah Republicans didn’t care. In fact, that’s exactly why they tossed him out Saturday in a humbling second ballot vote at the state party convention.
The circumstances surrounding his downfall were unique to Utah with its state convention process, yet there was an unmistakable message to incumbents on both sides of the aisle: This is no ordinary year, and the ordinary, time-honored methods of winning votes may not be enough.
For Republicans who are measuring the drapes in anticipation of reclaiming power, Bennett’s loss should be sobering. If the anti-Washington and tea party winds keep blowing this strong, some of them could be measuring their own political graves.