Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who had long been eyeing a primary challenge against long-time Sen. Orrin Hatch, is expected to announce later today that he will not seek the Senate, and instead run for re-election to the House, the Salt Lake Tribune reports -- thus removing the single greatest threat to Hatch's re-election.
The Hatch and Chaffetz camps had already been fighting it out in public, in expectation of the likely contest. In addition, polling had shown that Hatch was vulnerable after 35 years securely in office, thanks in part to the overall anti-incumbent restlessness that has seen the rise of the Tea Party movement.
However, Chaffetz would have had to have risked a lot -- a secure spot in the House, and a position as a major voice among House conservatives -- for a Senate bid that would not have been any sure thing. In addition, Hatch has been going further to the right, with his support for a "Balanced Budget Amendment" proposal that would limit government spending and put up roadblocks to tax increases. Perhaps as a result, a more recent survey was showing Hatch with a lead over Chaffetz.