Why You Should Watch Utah and France This Weekend

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Sen. Orrin Hatch at the Capitol.

What do Utah and France have in common?

They’re both holding big elections this weekend. Political junkies, including Political Economy, will be watching.

In Utah, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch is up for re-nomination at a convention tomorrow. If Hatch wins 60 percent of the votes of Republican delegates, he becomes the party’s nominee this November and won’t have to run in a primary election in June. His main opponent is Dan Liljenquist, a former state senator.

Hatch is trying to avoid the fate of his former Senate colleague Robert Bennett, who was defeated for re-election at a Republican convention two years ago in part because of opposition from Tea Party activists. Hatch is more politically secure. With 35-plus years of service, Hatch is the longest-serving Republican senator along with Richard Lugar of Indiana (who has a tougher race coming up next month)

As Utah Republicans finish up their business, French voters 5,000 miles away will be getting ready to vote Sunday in the first round of a presidential election. The main contenders, incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist challenger Francois Hollande, seem certain to outpoll the other eight candidates on the ballot and qualify for a May 6 runoff. Sarkozy trails Hollande in polls.


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