"If Senator Hatch continues to hide from televised debates and is unwilling to appear publicly to debate his record after nearly four decades in Washington, we will have to debate it for him," Liljenquist said.
Hatch's campaign rejects the notion that the senator is running and hiding. His team points to his Senate schedule and often notes that he debated Liljenquist twice before the April state party convention and has appeared in numerous other joint capacities.
"Debates are only one method of campaigning," said Hatch's campaign manager Dave Hansen. "They are not the only method. The senator is aggressively pursuing this election and will continue to do so in number of different ways."
Charting a very different path from Robert Bennett's failed 2010 effort, Hatch saturated the convention with supporters, and nearly sealed up the nomination there. But falling just short, he moved quickly into Plan B mode, trying to win the nomination in a primary, among a broader electorate. Hatch's more than ten-to-one cash advantage and high name ID gave him an instant head start.
Hatch intends to make full use of the money he's raised. He already gone up on TV post-convention with positive ads and his campaign says he is focused on a robust ground game aimed at turning out early and absentee voters. A source tracking Utah ad buys notes that Hatch has reserved nearly $500,000 worth of broadcast time from May 28 until Election Day.
But as recent Senate primaries have shown, much of the decisive action in a race happens during the stretch run. No one gave Deb Fischer much of a chance in Nebraska until the final seven days, and in Texas, Ted Cruz, who looked like a fading star a month ago, has reemerged as real threat to advance to a runoff in Texas next week.
"The senator never takes anything for granted -- certainly not this election," said Hansen.