Top of the ballot: Bennett's got weekend plans

Utah Sen. Bob Bennett (R) faces a decisive showdown this weekend in Salt Lake City, the GOP primary gets wild in West Virginia's 1st district and the GOP's best hope in Iowa goes in for surgery.

Working for the weekend

Campaigning to save his job, Utah Sen. Bob Bennett (R) has missed 36 of the 131 Senate roll call votes as of Wednesday, according to the Deseret News.

Reporters aren't the only ones taking notice, the Club for Growth issued a statement saying Bennett's "supposed to be Washington fighting to save our economy, not in Utah fighting to save his career."

Club spokesman Mike Connolly added that in addition to issuing a release attacking Bennett for absenteeism, the group will set up booths at the GOP convention on Saturday and will dispense information there about his missed votes.

This weekend's convention is expected to be Bennett's Waterloo. Challengers Mike Lee (R) and Tim Bridgewater (R) have been leading the incumbent in some recent polls.

Bennett needs the support of 60 percent of the some 3,500 delegates at the convention to hold the nomination and 40 percent to stay alive for a June primary. Some surveys have shown that Bennett may be hard pressed to hold on to 40 percent.

It's getting ugly in West Virginia

Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) is facing one of the toughest races of his career after voting for healthcare reform but his eventual GOP challenger may emerge bloodied and bruised from the primary.

Republicans Mac Warner and David McKinley got into a fierce exchange during a GOP candidates debate in Wheeling Wednesday night. Warner accused McKinley of "feigning concern" for his son who was injured serving in Afghanistan, then calling his opponent "unfit to serve" in Congress in a mailer the next day.

"Some don't get it because they've never served in our Armed Forces," Warner said. "Don't ever call me unfit to serve." The moderator quickly ended the debate and the station ended the broadcast.

Terry's on the mend

Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) went in for elective heart surgery on Wednesday. He's expected to make a full recovered according to a spokesman for the Iowa Heart Center.

"Governor Branstad should be able to resume his normal campaign schedule within the next few days and should quickly return to his normal lifestyle without limitations. He should be fully capable of performing the activities of a candidate and a governor," the spokesman said.

Branstad's the favorite to win the GOP nod to face Gov. Chet Culver (D). Should his health compromise his ability to campaign vigorously, it could be a boon to the embattled Democrat.