SALT LAKE CITY — Disgruntled conservatives are taking aim at six-term Sen. Orrin Hatch in Utah's upcoming caucuses.

Hatch has been waiting for them.

FreedomWorks is a national tea-party organizer leading the charge against Hatch, having spent more than $475,000 this year opposing his re-election. The veteran senator has at least two challengers. Those most critical of Hatch cite some of his past votes for bipartisan measures in Congress, such as the bank bailout.

But Hatch has out-of-state support as well. Nearly 40 percent of the $4.9 million fueling his campaign came from political action committees representing insurers, technology giants, banks and other corporations and trade groups affected by legislation passing through the Senate Finance Committee, where he's the senior Republican.

Thursday's gatherings represent the first step in Utah's unique nominating system.