Utah Democrats endorsed failed independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin’s Senate bid last weekend, solidifying the NeverTrump crusader’s place as the liberal pick to unseat incumbent Sen. Mike Lee in lieu of a GOP primary.
“I’m humbled and grateful to the Democratic delegates today for their decision to support this growing cross-partisan coalition,” McMullin said in a statement Saturday.
Taking up the same anti-Trump mantle of Rep. Liz Cheney, who faces a tough re-election bid in Wyoming, McMullin declared Lee “a threat to the republic” whose “extreme partisanship and involvement in a plot to overturn our election are inexcusable.”
Rather than wade into a Republican primary, McMullin launched an independent Senate bid in October while Lee faces an inner-party challenge from two acolytes of the state’s junior Sen. Mitt Romney. The senator elected in 2018 after his own failed presidential campaign as the 2012 Republican nominee has refused to endorse in the race, telling Politico he considers both McMullin and Lee “two friends.”
“I don’t get involved in primaries and I don’t endorse,” said Romney, who, days later would attend a Cheney fundraiser in Virginia.
McMullin drew the endorsement of the United Utah Party earlier this month as the former CIA officer builds an independent coalition to defeat Lee in November, pending the incumbent’s survival in the June primary. Despite a center-right policy platform, McMullin, for all intents and purposes, is a Democrat, working to oust a reliable conservative in the upper chamber while branding Republican opposition as dangerous to democracy itself. McMullin even pledged refusal to caucus with Republicans on Capitol Hill if elected.
“As a senator, he would be accountable to Utahns and to his conscience, not to party bosses or special interest groups which corrupt our politics today,” McMullin Communications Director Kelsey Koenen Witt told the Salt Lake Tribune in a statement published Tuesday. “What Evan is doing is unique, and it is the only way to change our broken politics in Washington and bring better representation to the Senate for Utah.”
Refusal to caucus with either party then calls into question McMullin’s prospective ability to effectively advocate for constituents of a large Western state where nearly two-thirds of its land is overseen by the federal government. Even independent Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine caucus with the Democrats.
McMullin began to build an anti-Trump coalition in Utah six years ago, when his presidential campaign which garnered less than 1 percent of the national popular vote earned 22 percent of the vote in Utah.
On Monday, McMullin drew praise from The Washington Post’s resident leftist masquerading as a “conservative” columnist, Jennifer Rubin, lavishing routine praise over critics of the Republican Party as holy saviors of Democracy.
In her column headlined, “Utah could serve as a model for saving democracy,” Rubin reviewed McMullin’s record as a glorified NeverTrumper supporting the Democrats’ impeachment efforts and later condemning legitimate questions over election integrity.
“McMullin has excoriated Republicans for plunging into conspiracy theories and using government power to exact revenge on businesses or political opponents,” Rubin wrote.
“He’s a staunch supporter of Ukraine,” she reminded while McMullin’s campaign paints Lee as a pro-Russian puppet in an ad rated “mostly false” by even left-wing PolitiFact.
Since his campaign kickoff last fall, McMullin has become the Lincoln Project candidate of the Utah Senate race, drawing support from all the right corners of the political spectrum with a vengeance for the Republican base.