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The decision to get behind McMullin could help bolster his Senate bid at a time when Lee is on the defensive over newly revealed text messages showing he communicated for weeks with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about the effort to overturn the 2020 election. Party delegates voted 57% to 43% Saturday at their convention in Murray, Utah, to not nominate a candidate of their own. Former State Department official Kael Weston had been seeking the Democratic endorsement for US Senate. “Today Utah Democrats voted to join Evan McMullin’s cross-partisan coalition and not to nominate a candidate into the 2022 midterm US Senate race,” McMullin’s campaign said in a statement Saturday. “This marks the first time in Utah’s history that the Democratic Party has not put forward a candidate for a statewide race choosing instead to put country over party.” Weston said he respected the decision. “Let’s all help get other Democrats elected this year. And let’s all help defeat Mike Lee — the sooner the better,” he said on Twitter. Lee, who is seeking a third term in November, remains the favorite in deep-red Utah, which backed then-President Donald Trump by over 20 points in 2020. Democrats have not won a US Senate election in Utah since 1970. Lee also has a strong cash-on-hand advantage over McMullin, according to their most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission. The senator faces a June primary against two Republicans, former state Rep. Becky Edwards and former state government official Ally Isom, who qualified for the ballot by submitting the required number of signatures.
McMullin, a former CIA officer and onetime House GOP aide, ran for president in 2016 as an anti-Trump conservative. While he got less than 1% of the popular vote, his candidacy earned about 22% of the vote in Utah, his best showing of any state.
“I’m humbled and grateful to the Democratic delegates today for their decision to support this growing cross-partisan coalition,” McMullin said Saturday. “Today, and moving forward, this coalition represents a majority of Utahns who want to replace Senator Mike Lee. He is a threat to the republic and consistently fails to represent our interests and our values.”
Former Utah Rep. Ben McAdams, who lost reelection in 2020 after serving one term, was among the state Democrats actively engaged in trying to get his party to not nominate a candidate at the convention. He wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday t