Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) said Thursday his failure to get on the primary ballot last weekend was motivated by voter anger, not rational thinking.
Utah's state Republican convention did not select Bennett, a three-term incumbent, to be on the primary ballot. Instead, delegates voted for political newcomers Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee.
"It wasn't logical, it was emotional, and the emotion trumps logic almost every time," he said on Fox News.
Bennett was highly rated by many conservative groups, but Tea Party activists believed he was not a reliable advocate in Washington after spending nearly 18 years in the Senate. His defeat underscored the deep anti-incumbent sentiment among voters this cycle.
"It was a combination of things. Primarily, it was simply the fact that I was in Washington and they hate Washington," he said. "You are part of the federal government, and the federal government comes across as some kind of giant conspiracy against the people and anybody who's in Washington has to be part of the conspiracy."
The senator said he does not begrudge the Tea Party and that the movement "has been very helpful to the Republicans — it's awakened a lot of people."
But he questioned whether or not the movement's power would last until November. Even though he was defeated, Bennett stood by his voting record.
"You know, I would not change any of my subtsantial votes, because they were the right votes," he said.