Mike Lee sails to victory in the Utah Senate primary

Senator Mike Lee defeated two Republican challengers who sought to disqualify him from a third term in the US Senate, but now faces a more severe challenge in November from an independent candidate with Democratic backing.

With 64% of the votes declared, Mr. Lee was ahead with 59% of the vote. Former GOP Representative Becky Edwards came in second with 33%, while CTO Ally Isom came in third with 8%.

Mr. Lee now faces independent Evan McMullen in November in a race that some analysts believe may be more competitive than is typical in the deep red beehive state.

Mr. McMullen, an outspoken opponent of former President Donald Trump, has the support of the state’s Democratic Party, which has taken the unusual step of withdrawing its candidate to support Mr. McMullen. McMullen ran against Trump in 2016 as an independent and received more than 20% of the Utah presidential election vote.

Mr Mullen has attempted to link Mr. Lee with Mr. Trump’s attempt to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president in 2020.

He seized text messages leaked to the media in April that show Mr Lee on November 7, 2020 offering “unequivocal support” to Mr, Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, “to exhaust every legal and constitutional remedy at your disposal to restore America’s confidence in Our elections.”

Mr. Lee’s support for Trump’s electoral challenge was short-lived and he voted to certify Joe Biden’s victory on January 6, 2021, but Mr. McMullen has continued to accuse Mr. Lee of something like treason. “Mike Lee conspired directly with the Trump Administration to cancel the 2020 election and bypass the will of the American people,” McMullen wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

Mr. McMullen faces major challenges winning voters in Utah, particularly as he tries to court Democratic and independent voters, while still trying to appeal to disaffected Republicans.

Utah voters have not elected a Democrat to a statewide office since 1996.

Mr. McMullen voted for Biden and said he did not support the Supreme Court’s overturning of the 1973 ruling requiring abortion. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday.

Mr. McMullen issued a statement vowing his opposition to states that impose “extreme laws”, such as blanket bans on abortion, birth control restrictions and “criminalizing women in desperate situations”.

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