Jun 29, 2022 - Politics

Utah Sen. Mike Lee wins GOP primary

Mike Lee in front of American flags.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mike Lee speaks during a debate Wednesday, June 1, 2022, in Draper, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mike Lee defeated his GOP challengers Becky Edwards, a former state legislator, and Ally Isom, the former deputy chief of staff to then-Gov. Gary Herbert, in Tuesday night's Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Details: Lee garnered nearly 62% of votes, compared to Edwards (30%) and Isom (8%), statewide preliminary results showed.

  • Political scientists previously said Lee was the leading candidate in the Senate race.
  • Lee has raised nearly $6.5 million for his U.S. Senate campaign as of June 8, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Background: Support for the Trump-backed Republican was not deterred by unflattering headlines surrounding Lee.

  • He received backlash in April after text messages he exchanged with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows outlining tactics to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election were revealed.

Why it matters: Lee, who is seeking his third term in the U.S. Senate, moves forward to compete against Independent candidate Evan McMullin in November.

Flashback: In a controversial move, the majority of Democratic delegates voted during the Utah Democratic Convention in April to back McMullin, a former 2016 presidential candidate.

  • Democrats argued choosing an Independent candidate over a Democrat would increase the odds of defeating a Republican in the U.S. Senate race.
  • McMullin has raised about $2.7 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.

What they said: "The Utah Republican voters have spoken tonight," Lee said in his acceptance speech at his watch party in South Jordan. "They made a choice for freedom and religious liberty, and they made a choice rejecting the Biden administration's failed policies."

While the outcome didn't result in her favor, Edwards said in a statement she was proud of the campaign she and her team ran.

  • "I am proud of what we have accomplished these past twelve months," Isom echoed in a statement.

Utah Republican Party Chair Carson Jorgensen said he wasn't worried about Lee facing McMullin.

  • "We're definitely going to put everything we've got towards this race and make sure we make a statement," he said.

The other side: McMullin said he looked forward to challenging Lee in November.

  • "Tonight, I'm extending an invitation to all voters who are discouraged, frustrated, and exhausted by Lee's divisive and ineffective politics," McMullin said in a statement. "Utah can do better."

Meanwhile: U.S. Reps. John Curtis, Blake Moore, Burgess Owens and Chris Stewart also won their own GOP primary races on Tuesday.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to show Lee's comments after his victory, as well as comments from Edwards, Isom and McMullin.

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