Shurtleff, also a Republican, was elected to third term in November with 70 percent of the vote and has indicted he's leaning toward challenging Bennett in 2010, the Washington publication Politico reported Monday.
Bennett, who has won re-election by landslide margins since first winning the U.S. Senate seat in 1992, is seen as vulnerable to a challenge from the right thanks to his Wall Street bailout vote last fall, which state political analysts said was perceived by conservatives as an indication Bennett has become a big-spending Washington insider.
"More and more people are concerned … that (congressional Republicans and Democrats) spent us into a huge hole," Shurtleff told Politico. "That seems to be a pretty across-the-board response with folks and with Republicans in particular."
"It's a very real challenge to Bennett," LaVarr Webb, a longtime state GOP strategist, told Politico. "He could be in real trouble."