Utah Democrats Endorse Independent McMullin vs. Lee

Independent Senate candidate Evan McMullin has the support of the Donkey Party.
Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty Images

When a political party finds itself in a hopeless minority position, it sometimes has to get creative to stay relevant. That’s exactly what Utah Democrats are doing, like Washington To post reports:

Utah Democrats made the unusual move to back independent candidate Evan McMullin in his run against Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who was asked about his furious push to nullify the 2020 election to keep the President Donald Trump in office.

Democrats voted 57% to 43% not to endorse a candidate at their convention on Saturday. Instead, they hope to raise McMullin’s candidacy.

If the name Evan McMullin sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the conservative ex-Republican Never Trumper who organized a Utah-based independent race for the presidency in 2016. He managed to get himself elect in 11 states and got 731,000 votes, 243,000 of them from Utah, where he won 21% of the vote and finished not far behind Hillary Clinton. Utah was a hotbed of Republican anti-Trump sentiment, largely thanks to Mormon hostility to the idea of ​​a president behaving like Trump did in the infamous Go to Hollywood video. Indeed, one of the publicly announced McMullin voters was Republican U.S. Senator Mike Lee.

As noted above, Lee overcame his moral qualms about the 45th president, and in 2020 he was cheering on Trump’s efforts to undo his presidential defeat. This about-face is not universally appreciated in the Beehive state, as shown by the starkly different conduct of Lee’s Senate colleague, Mitt Romney, who voted twice to remove Trump from office.

There were just enough Republican gripes about Lee that his renomination for a third term this year was challenged. Although he was endorsed by the state’s GOP convention over the weekend, he will face two Republican opponents who qualified for a primary in August by voter petition. Democrats, meanwhile, dropped out of their primary to help McMullin, according to the To post:

Democrat Kael Weston sought his party’s nomination, but a group of party members supporting McMullin, including former Democratic congressman Ben McAdams, convinced delegates not to nominate anyone, allowing McMullin, a former CIA officer, to get as much support as possible.

The independent Senate candidate immediately signaled that he was building a fusion candidacy, while the Desert News Noted:

The unprecedented decision, McMullin said, shows “Utah Democrats put country above party.”

“We have an awful lot of common ground (in) this coalition of Democrats, independents, principled Republicans … who want to make a change,” McMullin said. “This idea that our differences are greater than what we have in common is just plain wrong.”

The Senate race isn’t the only example of a Trump-generated split among Utah Republicans. The ex-president’s demonization of mail-in voting – at the heart of his 2020 plot to declare victory after Election Day votes gave him an early lead – has led more than one MAGA stalwart to try to dismantle the by-by-universal vote supported by the Utah Republicans. messaging system. It was very popular until Trump’s sinister scheme grew, like the Los Angeles Time observed:

By 2019, every county in the state had opted into the state policy of allowing counties to mail in all active ballots, making Utah the fourth state to hold an “all-mail” election. . On election day, a limited number of polling stations remain open.

The practice was so popular that in Utah County, residents protested after authorities decided in 2018 not to send ballots to all active voters. “It’s just plain wrong. It’s not the American way,” a city official said of the decision at the time. “Don’t we want a strong turnout?”

The county later reversed the decision.

That was then. It is now:

Opponents filled five overflow rooms to listen to a legislative hearing on a proposal to abolish universal voting by mail earlier this year. Fresh off of a failed effort to qualify a 2022 ballot measure that would end mail-in voting in Utah, anti-mail-in ballot crowd members refer to themselves as ‘We the people’ said they had heard of ballots being mailed to voters who had died and urged lawmakers to require independent post-election audits.

This is another example of the collateral damage done to the GOP by Trump’s selfish efforts to perpetually retain power. The Lee-McMullin contest can show if he can impose his will on a very conservative but sometimes rebellious state.

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