Chaffetz says he'll 'maybe' primary Hatch in 2012

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Wednesday it's possible that he might challenge Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in a 2012 Senate primary.

"Maybe," a grinning Chaffetz said on MSNBC when asked if he might wage a bid in the next two years to unseat the veteran Hatch.

"I'm not here to make a campaign announcement, but, yeah, I serve at the will of the people. I'll serve where they want me to serve," he said.

Chaffetz, a first-term conservative lawmaker who ousted Rep. Chris Cannon (R) in a 2008 primary challenge, had considered a challenge to Sen. Bob Bennett, Utah's other Republican senator who lost his party's nomination this past weekend.

State Republican activists chose businessman Tim Bridgewater and attorney Mike Lee over Bennett on Saturday at a state GOP nominating convention. Bennett was defeated in part over conservative activists' anger over his support for the Wall Street bailout at the height of the financial crisis in 2008, as well as for his partnership with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on a bipartisan healthcare reform proposal.

Hatch dismissed the prospect of a challenge in 2012, in which he'll be seeking a seventh term.

As though to end any doubt, Chaffetz was more explicit about a potential challenge to Hatch.

"He has the right to if he wants to," Hatch said of a potential Chaffetz bid. "He won't be the first person to challenge me."

"I’m not willing to shut the door on a potential Senate run," he told the conservative National Review Online.

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