CHICAGO (Reuters) – As Mitt Romney inches toward the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, many conservative activists are increasingly focused on a different political prize for 2012: the Senate.
Republicans, who currently have 47 of the 100 Senate seats, are seen as having a good shot of winning control of the upper chamber because they are defending far fewer seats in the November election.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is the clear frontrunner for the party’s presidential nomination after victories in the Iowa and New Hampshire nominating contests this month. He can move a big step closer with a win in the January 19 South Carolina primary.
But some supporters of the Tea Party movement and other conservatives distrust Romney, deriding him as a moderate, and they hope to get a few of their candidates into the Senate to serve as a “bulwark” against him or President Barack Obama.