Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee called on Sen. Mitt Romney, his GOP colleague who represents the same state in the upper chamber, to support his reelection campaign for the sake of the country on Tuesday.
Lee faces a challenge from NeverTrump champion Evan McMullin, a self-proclaimed independent whom the Democrats endorsed as their Senate candidate this election cycle in lieu of nominating their own candidate.
“My opponent Evan McMullin is a Democrat running in disguise,” Lee told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night. Romney remains the sole Senate Republican who has refused to endorse Lee’s bid for a third term. “I don’t think Mitt Romney wants Chuck Schumer to continue to be the Senate majority leader. If I’m right on that, then he needs to get on board, because that’s exactly what he will be producing.”
In March, Romney told Politico he would refrain from making an endorsement in his own state’s Senate race because he considers McMullin and Lee “two friends.”
“I don’t get involved in primaries and I don’t endorse,” said Romney, who days later attended a fundraiser for Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney in Virginia. Cheney ultimately lost her primary bid to attorney Harriet Hageman in August by an overwhelming margin of 37 points.
McMullin, for all intents and purposes, is a Democrat, working to oust a reliable conservative from the Senate while branding Republican opposition as dangerous to democracy itself. McMullin even pledged his refusal to caucus with Republicans or Democrats on Capitol Hill if elected and is running as a pro-abortion radical.
“I need to maintain my independence in order to represent this coalition I’m building — I’ve asked the Democrats to join me, I’ve asked Romney Republicans to join me, independents, the United Utah Party, and they are, they’re joining this coalition,” McMullin told NBC News in July.
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 under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Even independent Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine caucus with the Democrats.
Last month, Republicans on Capitol Hill told The Federalist that lawmakers are increasingly worried about Romney’s lack of support for Lee, which could tip the Senate in Democrats’ favor with Schumer landing another term as majority leader.
“I respect [Romney], and I understand that each state has its own dynamics, but I do not understand why he is remaining neutral,” said one senator, who asked not to be identified. “Whatever our differences, we all try to support each other around election time.”