Eating their young?

The late state Sen. Teel Bivins of Amarillo used to say that redistricting, when legislators have to redraw state and congressional district lines, is an event in which “Republicans eat their young.”

Well, the Republican Party isn’t waiting for the next reapportionment to consume one of its own.

U.S. Sen. Robert Bennett went down in flames this past weekend, losing the Utah GOP race for another term in the Senate. Why? Bennett isn’t conservative enough, to which I say, “What the … ?”

Bennett is one of the more reliably conservative senators on Capitol Hill. He was running for a fourth term in Utah. I checked his voting record first thing this morning. I learned this from the Almanac of American Politics:

* Political action groups rated Bennett’s record as 66 percent “conservative” in 2008; the previous year, he voted with the right on average about 70 percent of the time.

* The U.S. Chamber of Commerce — a bastion of business conservatism — gave Bennett a 100 percent rating in both 2007 and 2008.

But he’ll be out on his ear at the end of 2010. Utah has an unusual way of nominating party candidates. They do it by party convention. Bennett didn’t make the grade, losing renomination to a Tea Party favorite.

How does this bode for the Republican Party? It might that the party is making itself more ideologically pure and pushing aside all semblance of moderation. Witness the defection recently in Florida, where once-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist left his party to run for the Senate as an independent. Crist’s “crime”? He gave President Obama a brief man-hug a year ago while endorsing the president’s economic stimulus package.

Bon appetit, Republicans.