Incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett has suffered his first defeat of any kind in his hotly contested inter-party race for re-election.At Friday night’s Cache County Republican Lincoln Day dinner, Bennett, who is finishing his third term as a senator from Utah, failed to get 40 percent of the 255 votes cast in a straw poll.Bennett received 97 votes, finishing in second place to Mike Lee, who had 102. Tim Bridgewater finished third in the poll with 44 votes, Merrill Cook received six votes, Cherilyn Eagar had five and one vote was cast for no particular candidate.The vote is symbolic in that at the Utah Republican Convention, a candidate needs 60 percent of the vote to skip a primary election. 62 percent of the votes cast Friday night were not for Bennett.There’s only been one other straw poll in Utah for the Republican Senate race so far, and that was a few weeks ago in Box Elder County. Bennett won that poll, receiving 38.4 percent of the vote. Mike Lee received 31.5 percent there and Bridgewater had 15.7 percent. Eagar received 12.2 percent and Cook hadn’t entered the race at that point.A separate straw poll was held Friday night for the candidates for the Republican nomination for governor. Incumbent Gary Herbert dominated that poll, receiving 197 of the 208 votes cast.
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