Anyone who thinks Utah Senate candidate Evan McMullin is running as a true independent must be unfamiliar with where “McMuffin’s” campaign comes from.
For one, McMullin is running with the full endorsement of the Utah Democratic Party, which voted in April to back the former House staffer in his bid to unseat Republican Sen. Mike Lee. McMullin has leveraged the Democrat Party’s fundraising machine ever since, soliciting donors through ActBlue while contracting Democratic strategists to the tune of $1.6 million. So for an independent candidate, support behind the effort is remarkably partisan.
A closer look at the origins of McMullin’s campaign reveals the Senate hopeful as nothing more than the latest vehicle for the Lincoln Project to thwart the Republican agenda. The group of self-righteous political operatives who supposedly set out on a crusade to save the Republican Party from Donald Trump quickly morphed into an explicit enterprise to capitalize on Trump Derangement Syndrome while masquerading as white knight Republicans. Few if any of the group’s scandal-ridden co-founders, however, have worked on a legitimate Republican campaign in more than a decade, and at least one, Steve Schmidt, openly registered as a Democrat in December 2020.
The foundation for McMullin’s Senate run with a pro-abortion platform lies in the candidate’s first race as a failed presidential hopeful six years ago. McMullin’s entire political career has been one of GOP obstruction and sabotage, forcing the Republican Party to divert scarce resources from key contests to the futile challenges for an upset in Utah.
In 2016, McMullin was recruited by Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson and Bulwark co-founder Bill Kristol to lead a third-party bid for the White House. Tax filings show Kristol has effectively been a Democrat for years while both worked to undermine Republican incumbents in Georgia’s Senate contests last year. McMullin ultimately pulled less than 1 percent of the popular vote but garnered 21 percent in Utah and finished the race with $645,000 of unpaid debt. The national campaign for a 40-year-old former Hill staffer nobody had ever heard of was never going to take off, but the effort forced the Trump campaign to send former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to Salt Lake City in the final days of the race when the vice presidential nominee could have spent time somewhere else.
“Evan McMullin Isn’t Just Running For President — He’s Literally Building A New Party,” ran a BuzzFeed headline on the day of Pence’s Utah visit. Wilson was named in the story as a senior adviser to McMullin, who ultimately became the Lincoln Project’s pet candidate in this year’s election cycle to hand Chuck Schumer another two years as majority leader after the group meddled in Georgia. A Democrat win in Utah could serve as the dark-horse pick-up Schumer needs to offset losses elsewhere and maintain his grip on the upper chamber.
Even after founders fled the Lincoln Project when it became mired in child sex scandals, Wilson remains a creature of the Beltway group that’s become a favorite among East Coast media. If there were one mascot to illustrate the depravity of the project’s commentary, Wilson would be it. In 2020, an interview of Wilson mocking Trump supporters on CNN as “credulous Boomer rube[s]” went viral. The clip featured Wilson with Don Lemon and then-New York Times columnist Wajahat Ali making fun of Republicans and insulting Trump supporters’ intelligence.
“Donald Trump’s the smart one, and y’all — y’all elitists are dumb,” Wilson said mimicking the voice of a southerner.
Drew Holden, now a media reporter at the Washington Free Beacon, made a lengthy Twitter thread outlining the credulous claims Wilson made on the platform up to the summer of 2020. Wilson warned a Trump primary win would inaugurate a new era of Democrat governance forever, said Trump would steer Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to the White House, and championed the Russia hoax. Considering his endorsement of Democrats in the 2018 midterms, Wilson is probably sad none of it ever came true.
Scrolling through Wilson’s Twitter feed is like scrolling through the social media posts of some crazed angry uncle with nothing better to do than to tweet at random people on the internet.
In 2020, Wilson even tried stirring controversy against a pizza company over a 10-year-old response to a compliment on Twitter from Trump spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany.
Wilson is now an enthusiastic ally of McMullin trying to take down Senator Lee.
On Tuesday, the Lincoln Project published an ad advancing McMullin’s false claims surrounding Sen. Lee’s decision to certify the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021. McMullin charged Lee with closely coordinating with the Trump White House to install “fake electors” ahead of certification.
“I think you knew how important it was when you sought to urge the White House that had lost an election to find fake electors to overturn the will of the people,” McMullin said. “Sen. Lee, that was the most egregious betrayal of our nation’s Constitution in its history by a U.S. senator, I believe, and it will be your legacy.”
McMullin’s charges drew boos from an audience who knew none of it was true.
According to book reporting by Robert Costa and Bob Woodward, two favorites of the Washington establishment, Lee’s knowledge of a campaign seeking alternate electors only extended to “a social media campaign — an amateur push with no legal standing,” not a real plot by legitimate officials.
McMullin’s claims, however, came straight from the playbook of the House Select Committee on Jan. 6, amplifying one false narrative after another to smear political opponents ahead of the November midterms.
It’s no surprise then, that McMullin will share the stage Thursday night with Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans appointed by Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the Select Committee. Kinzinger, himself a failed opportunist with a legacy of pointless vengeance, is headed to Salt Lake City for a “Democracy Forum” with McMullin less than a month before Election Day.
A Republican member of the Jan. 6 Committee campaigning for the Lincoln Project candidate in Utah makes Sen. Mitt Romney’s refusal to endorse in the race come as little surprise.
In February last year, Romney became the only Republican in the upper chamber to back the president’s impeachment twice. A champion of the Jan. 6 Committee, Romney fundraised for the panel’s vice chair, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, in her effort to fend off a successful primary challenge from attorney Harriet Hageman.
At the same time, Romney remains the only Senate Republican who has refused Lee his endorsement, an exceedingly rare move for a same-state senator of the same party.
“I don’t get involved in primaries and I don’t endorse,” Romney told Politico earlier this year just before fundraising for Cheney.
Lee called on Romney to make an endorsement for the Republican campaign last week.
“I don’t think Mitt Romney wants Chuck Schumer to continue to be the Senate majority leader,” Lee said on Fox News “If I’m right on that, then he needs to get on board, because that’s exactly what he will be producing.”
Contrast Lee’s frustration about Romney’s non-endorsement with McMullin’s excitement, and that says just about everything about who Romney is supporting this election cycle.
“I respect that and appreciate it very much,” McMullin told Politico this summer.