As U.S. Senate hopeful Evan McMullin campaigns for support, he’s appealing to a cross-section of Utahns, even suggesting that Democrats waive a prospect’s selection and back him to bolster the candidate’s prospects. independent.
“I hope that the United Utah Party and the Democratic Party, instead of nominating someone in this race, will join this coalition and help me build it because I need the help of members of all parties to build this coalition,” McMullin mentioned.
Indeed, coalition building, he said, is central to the campaign at this point. Mike Lee, a conservative Utah County GOPer, now holds the U.S. Senate job and is seeking his third term in this year’s election cycle.
“That’s the job of our campaign, to engage with these different groups and bring them together. The response has been tremendous,” McMullin said Monday in an interview with the Standard-Examiner.
McMullin, also from Utah County, previously worked as an officer with the Central Intelligence Agency and director of US congressional policy. His roots are as a Republican, but he launched an independent bid for president of the United States in 2016, spurred by opposition to Donald Trump, the GOP presidential hopeful and eventual winner.
Now, dissatisfaction with Lee — a “key element” of “broken” politics in Washington, DC, McMullin accuses — is a key force driving his Senate bid. McMullin garnered 21.5% of the vote in the 2016 presidential election in Utah, behind Trump, who received 45.5% support, and Hillary Clinton, with 27.5% support.
“Mike Lee, he finds it difficult to work even with members of his own party. That’s why he’s not able to do much,” McMullin said. “We really need leaders in Washington who will find solutions to the major challenges we face and instead Mike Lee is chasing, calling for extremes and promoting the politics of division, and as a result our state is suffering. So we need to make a change.
As an independent, McMullin is hoping for support from Democrats, Republicans, independents and members of smaller parties like the United Utah Party. A majority of Utahns want to unseat Lee, he claimed, but support across the spectrum will be essential if he is to get the job done.
“If we are united in the general election, we will. But if we’re divided, we won’t,” McMullin said. His call is for voters to “unite in this coalition in the general election to replace Mike Lee and send better leadership to Washington.” The state desperately needs it.
McMullin isn’t the only candidate unhappy with Lee. The incumbent has also attracted several GOP challengers, including Becky Edwards, a former member of the Utah House, and Ally Isom, a top aide to former Gov. Gary Herbert.
Edwards and Isom are the top fundraisers aside from Lee on the GOP side, with $507,857 and $240,514 in cash, respectively, according to figures from the US Federal Election Commission. Lee has $2.17 million in cash.
McMullin, for his part, notes that he beat Lee in giving in the last three months of 2021, raising $1.03 million in contributions. He announced his campaign on October 4 last year. Lee raised $654,476 in contributions in the final three months of 2021, though his current war chest of $2.17 million is about three times larger than McMullin’s $702,746.
Although he has sharp words for Lee, McMullin more broadly highlights what he says is a dysfunction among federal lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
“I just think we’ve reached a point in our country where our politics are broken, and to such a point that sometimes it feels like America is falling apart. We’re failing to overcome the major challenges facing our country. is facing and many of those challenges are now negatively impacting our quality of life here in Utah,” McMullin said.
He highlighted the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, rising health care costs and inflation as key concerns, as well as poor air quality on the Wasatch Front and persistent drought affecting most of from Utah.
That said, he sees “more common ground than our current leaders would have us believe.”
In his efforts to create a broad-based coalition, McMullin said he is seeing results.
“There are currently no major Democrats in the race. The state’s most influential Democratic leaders have joined the effort as well as many activists and donors. The same goes for the United Utah Party. There is no United Utah Party candidate in the race,” he said.
But, McMullin noted, party officials have yet to make a formal decision on their plans for the U.S. Senate race.
According to the Federal Election Commission website, the Democratic candidates at this point are Kael Weston, Austin Searle and Allen Glines. Only Weston, who ran unsuccessfully for the 2020 U.S. House seat from the 2nd District, has reported campaign funds, with $33,637 currently available.
McMullin’s political drivers, he said, are the ideals of the United States Declaration of Independence, “that we are all created free and that we are all of equal worth and are equal before the law “.