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Former Utah Sen. Bob Bennett Dies

Three-term Republican was a conservative and a pragmatist

Utah Sen. Robert Bennett was denied nomination to a fourth Senate term at the state GOP convention in 2010. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Utah Sen. Robert Bennett was denied nomination to a fourth Senate term at the state GOP convention in 2010. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bob Bennett, a conservative Republican who served three terms in the Senate from Utah, died on Wednesday.  

He was 82 and had battled cancer and suffered a stroke. The news was announced on his personal Facebook page.  

“Bob Bennett once said that there are two kinds of senators in Washington, work horses and show horses; it’s clear to anyone who knew him which path Sen. Bennett followed,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “Bob preferred the often low-key work of legislating to the bright lights of the media and approached his work with creativity, constructiveness, and honor.”  

Bennett, a former communications and business executive before winning a Senate seat in 1992, was considered a pragmatist who was a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and became a member of the GOP leadership team.  

He was also a former congressional staffer, and was particularly active on business, technology and transportation matters that came before Congress.  

He held a senior-level position at the U.S. Transportation Department during the Nixon administration, a time in his life that would later become a historical political footnote.  

Although never accused of any wrongdoing himself during Watergate, he was for years among the names rumored by some to be the Washington Post’s whistle-blowing “Deep Throat.” He always denied it, and a former FBI agent was later confirmed to be the source for the newspaper.  

Bennett was denied the Republican nomination for a fourth term at the 2010 Utah state GOP convention. Current Republican Sen. Mike Lee went on win election that fall.  

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Sen. Bennett. He spent his life in the service of others,” Lee said.  

Utah’s senior senator, Orrin G. Hatch , served with Bennett throughout his Senate career.  

“In that time, Bob served our state and the nation with unwavering devotion. In the Senate, he was widely respected as a wise and thoughtful leader committed to finding innovative solutions to the most difficult challenges of the day,” Hatch said. “Above all else, he was a passionate fighter for Utahns, whom were always foremost in his mind.”  

Bennett’s Facebook page noted that he died peacefully surrounded by family.  

“His final days were filled with kindness and love, and the family greatly appreciates the outpouring of well wishes and support. It touched his heart, and deeply touched ours, to see how much he was loved,” the post said.  

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

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