Utah Republican Mike Lee wins reelection to US Senate

Nov 8, 2022, 5:01 AM | Updated: Nov 9, 2022, 12:18 am
Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee speaks to reporters during an election-night party Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2...

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee speaks to reporters during an election-night party Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Republican Mike Lee has been reelected to a third term in the U.S. Senate, defeating independent challenger Evan McMullin on Tuesday in the state’s most closely watched Senate race in decades.

Lee’s win keeps Utah in Republican hands as the party vies for control of Congress and reflects that the libertarian-leaning conservative’s popularity has endured in Utah. His win indicates the majority of Utah voters were not swayed by McMullin’s criticisms of Lee’s second-term transformation, from a one-time opponent of former President Donald Trump to among his most loyal supporters.

McMullin’s formal backing from the Democratic party, which opted to back him instead of choosing a candidate, and attempts to exploit anti-Trump sentiment ultimately weren’t enough to unseat Lee.

Utah voters were familiar with McMullin from his independent presidential campaign in 2016, when he won 21.5% of the vote in the in Utah by seizing on anti-Trump sentiment to deny Trump an outright majority in the state.

Six years later, McMullin’s bid focused largely on Lee’s text messages with Trump’s staff in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. It ultimately wasn’t enough to score an upset in a state where voters and many political leaders have gradually grown to embrace Trump since 2016.

Lee comes from a prominent Utah political family. His father, Rex, served as U.S. Solicitor General under President Ronald Reagan and his brother, Thomas, is a former state Supreme Court Justice currently defending the state’s ban on transgender youth who want to participate in girls’ sports.

Since first being elected, Lee has cultivated a reputation for citing the U.S. Constitution frequently, often with the help of a pocket-sized edition he carries, and for advocating to limit the size of the federal government. He’s clung to those principles even when doing so has made him a lone “No” against otherwise unanimous votes in the Senate and contributed to the federal government shutting down. Two Republicans cited his unwillingness to compromise as a rationale for challenging him in Utah’s June primary and McMullin used his record to accuse him of being an obstructionist.

Lee’s defenders say his voting records exemplifies a willingness to fight for them and their values. He received endorsements from 48 Senate Republicans — all but Mitt Romney, who he’s represented Utah alongside since 2019. Lee’s victory over a self-identified conservative independent like McMullin suggests challenges could lie ahead for Romney should he decided to run for reelection in 2024.

Lee’s contest against McMullin was more competitive than either of Lee’s previous two races. He was first elected in 2010 during a Tea Party wave that he rode to unseat third-term Republican Sen. Bob Bennett at the Utah Republican Party’s convention that year and ultimately won the general election by 28.8 percentage points. He secured a second term in 2016, defeating Democrat Misty Snow by 31 percentage points.

He began that year as an avowed and public opponent of then-candidate Trump, even attempting to lead an effort to sabotage his nomination on the floor of the Republican National Convention. He voiced anger at Trump’s treatment of his friend and colleague U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and said on national television that the “Muslim ban” plank of Trump’s 2016 campaign was religious discrimination and an affront to both his beliefs and the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members make up the majority of Utah’s population.

Lee gradually warmed to Trump as he began fulfilling the priorities such as nominating conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, lowering taxes and embracing a conservative case for criminal justice reform. His ideological viewpoint won him support from political action committees like Americans for Prosperity and Club for Growth, which funneled millions into attack ads undercutting McMullin’s attempts to portray himself as an independent.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections

Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Pakistan army Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir attends a ceremony in Islamabad, Pakistan, Nov. 1, 20...
Associated Press

Pakistan’s new army chief takes charge of military

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s new military chief took command of the country’s armed forces on Tuesday amid a deepening political rift between the government and the popular opposition leader, as well as a renewed threat from a key militant group that has been behind scores of deadly attacks over 15 years. The army has historically […]
2 hours ago
A boy kisses a dog while he charges his phone at the heating tent "Point of Invincibly" in Bucha, U...
Associated Press

Ukraine’s ‘Invincibility’ centers offer refuge, resilience

BUCHA, Ukraine (AP) — Retired Ukrainian construction worker Borys Markovnikov is on the move again: This time, just a few steps from his home in the town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, to seek shelter and warmth at a “Point of Invincibility” — a government-built help station that serves food, drinks, warmth and ultimately, resilience, […]
2 hours ago
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gestures during joint statements with Romanian President Kl...
Associated Press

NATO ministers meet to drum up more aid, arms for Ukraine

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his NATO counterparts are gathering in Romania on Tuesday to drum up urgently needed support for Ukraine, including deliveries of electrical components for the war-torn country’s devastated power transmission network. Ukraine’s grid has been battered countrywide since early October by targeted Russian strikes, in […]
2 hours ago
A man walks by policemen monitoring inside a police vehicle parked near the site of last weekend pr...
Associated Press

Chinese university students sent home amid protests

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese universities are sending students home as the ruling Communist Party tightens anti-virus controls and tries to prevent more protests after crowds angered by its severe “zero COVID” restrictions called for President Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent in decades. With police out in force, there was […]
1 day ago
South Carolina Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, looks over a map during a House redistricting commit...
Associated Press

S. Carolina’s US House maps under scrutiny because of race

A trial to determine whether South Carolina’s congressional maps are legal closes Tuesday with arguments over whether the state Legislature diluted Black voting power by remaking the boundaries of the only U.S. House district Democrats have flipped in more than 30 years. The trial also marks the first time the South Carolina maps have been […]
1 day ago
FILE - This photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Kevin Johnson.  A federa...
Associated Press

Missouri prepares to execute man for killing officer in 2005

A Missouri inmate convicted of ambushing and killing a St. Louis area police officer he blamed in the death of his younger brother was scheduled to be executed Tuesday, though his lawyers are seeking to have the lethal injection halted. Kevin Johnson’s legal team doesn’t deny that he killed Police Officer William McEntee in 2005, […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Utah Republican Mike Lee wins reelection to US Senate