Hatch's outreach to Tea Party voters involves meetings with activists, including a sit down earlier this year at CPAC, where he met with Tea Party activists like Michelle Scharf
, who now works for the campaign
. Hatch also participated in a Tea Party Express town hall earlier this year.
His recent voting record also indicates a move to the right. The fiscally conservative Club for Growth -- which is encouraging Chaffetz to enter the race -- released their 2010 Congressional Scorecard earlier this year, and Hatch earned a 97 percent rating
, good enough for third best in the Senate. But Hatch also tied for the largest spread between his latest rating and his lifetime rating (which was 74 percent), a telling statistic.
"I think a lot of people are going to sit down and very carefully weigh Sen. Hatch's record over 36 years. Then, they are going to very carefully weigh his record over the past three and four years -- which is somewhat different and somewhat more leaning towards Tea Party values," Kirkham said.
Hatch's campaign, meanwhile, is making a broad effort to connect, as he tries to avoid the fate of former Sen. Bob Bennett
, R-Utah, who was ousted the state party's convention in 2010.
"The senator reaches out to every group in the state. He always has and he always will. He talks to a lot of people, he visits a lot of people, he holds a lot of town hall meetings, phone calls, and meets with groups and discusses whatever issues they have," Hatch campaign manager Dave Hansen
told Hotline On Call
last week. "It's not just tea party, it's all voters in the state of Utah. That's who we represent."
At the state GOP convention, if a candidate receives 60 percent of the vote from delegates at any point, that person clinches the party's nomination in the race. If that doesn't happen, the top two candidates are forced into a primary.
For his own part, Chaffetz believes Hatch's record should be looked at in its entirety.
"It's a 36 year record, not just 6 months of paying attention to voters at home. It's hard to quantify, but these kinds of races should be based on peoples' records," he said last week in an interview with Hotline On Call
"I think his approach on TARP, earmarks, the individual mandate on health care, the DREAM Act, No Child Left Behind, etc., will all be part of the discussion, regardless of whether or not I run."
For Hatch, the outreach to conservative voters is considerably easier without any other official competitors in the race, something that would likely change with Chaffetz in the contest.
"He's also been operating in a vacuum, without many people challenging his record," Chaffetz said. "When the race heats up, that will obviously change."
"In the grassroots we are always pleased when our elected officials reach out to us," said Kim Coleman
, an organizer with a Salt Lake County 912 group. "Looking at another six years of a Senate seat is a different matter. There are grassroots people that support Hatch and those that don't, and those that are on the fence. And a lot of that has to do with that the pool of options is going to look like."
Chaffetz said he's a "definite maybe," for the race, but added that an official announcement won't likely come until after the summer.
He noted that his relationship with Hatch isn't particularly close. "I see him rarely. I don't have much of a relationship there," Chaffetz said. "It's one of the things that's frustrating and potentially compelling to running. Dysfunctional."
--Julie Sobel contributed to this post