First, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) played up his ties to Mitt Romney in the face of a tough reelection bid.


View Photo Gallery: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), a top 2012 target for the tea party, is running for his seventh term in Utah by courting conservatives activists one by one.

Now, with the Utah Senate GOP primary three weeks away, state Sen. Dan Liljenquist (R) – who will face Hatch at the polls on June 26 -- is similarly embracing the presumptive GOP nominee, including Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital.

The move by Liljenquist is a testament to Romney’s popularity in Utah, where he graduated from Brigham Young University in 1971 and headed up the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002.

It’s also a testament to the close political relationship between Romney and Hatch, who first endorsed the former Massachusetts governor during his 2008 White House bid.

From a dispatch by the Web site Disreport on a Liljenquist town hall in Provo on Saturday:

Liljenquist began his speech, complete with a few jokes about his last name and meeting his wife while studying at BYU. In giving his introduction Liljenquist made sure to mention his work at Bain & Company, which he refers to as “Mitt’s company,” although Mitt Romney had not worked at Bain & Company for almost a decade during Liljenquist’s brief tenure there. He later name-dropped “Bain” and “Mitt” several more times, although Liljenquist’s work at Bain was only a small part of the former state senator’s decade-long work in the private sector. Later in his speech Liljenquist stated that he was a “huge Mitt Romney supporter.”

Romney announced his endorsement of Hatch in September, and this year cut a TV ad for the Utah senator’s campaign ahead of the March 15 Republican caucus meetings.

Last month, Romney tapped Hatch to serve as a “special adviser on policy,” a role in which the senator “will serve as a surrogate for the Romney campaign and provide strategic policy advice on key economic issues.”