In Utah Senate Race, a 'Wild Card' Emerges

Independent Evan McMullin is close in the polls to GOP incumbent Mike Lee
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2022 11:36 AM CDT
Mike Lee's Utah Race Is Surprisingly Tight
Evan McMullin is challenging Utah Sen. Mike Lee as an independent.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, file)

One of the more intriguing Senate races in November is out of Utah, where Republican Sen. Mike Lee—a staunch ally of Donald Trump—is in a surprisingly tight race with independent challenger Evan McMullin. Real Clear Politics still projects Lee to hold the seat, but Lee is up by 5 points or less in most polls, and one even has McMullin leading, notes the Hill. "It's basically neck and neck," says a BYU professor. Some headlines related to the race:

  • Op-ed ridicule: Lee is enduring some mockery online Monday because of an op-ed he submitted to the Salt Lake Tribune, reports Mediaite. The Utah newspaper invited both candidates to submit essays telling Utah residents why they deserved their vote. McMullin, as might be expected, wrote his in the first person. But Lee's submission by his campaign is written in the third person ("Mike Lee serves as a United States senator," it begins), and it almost comes off as Mike Lee giving a hearty endorsement to Mike Lee.

  • Ridicule, II: Lots of tweets are in circulation along this line: "Mike Lee couldn't find anyone else to call him a 'principled conservative' ... so he called himself that in an entire oped he authored himself," writes one critic. In fairness, the piece is bylined by the Lee campaign, not Lee himself, and the headlines of both op-eds are written in the third person.
  • Plea to Mitt: Lee also made headlines last week with a public plea to his fellow GOP senator from Utah, Mitt Romney, to endorse him. The two represent polar opposites of the GOP spectrum in regard to their view of Trump. Romney (who says he considers both candidates friends) has long made clear he would stay neutral in the race, and Lee's plea didn't change his mind. In fact, the Romney camp was annoyed by the request made on Fox News, reports the Washington Post.
  • Big unknown: The Hill analysis calls the race a "wild card" when it comes to which party ends up in charge of the Senate. McMullin appears to have a legit chance of victory, and he has promised that he won't caucus with either party should he win. If that happened, it "could throw the battle for control of the Senate into turmoil." McMullin is seeking to attract enough independents, Democrats, and moderate Republicans to score an upset.
(Read more Mike Lee stories.)

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