In Utah, Trump Ally Sen. Lee Faces GOP Primary Challengers

In Utah, Trump Ally Sen. Lee Faces GOP Primary Challengers In Utah, Trump Ally Sen. Lee Faces GOP Primary Challengers (Dreamstime)

SAM METZ and LINDSAY WHITEHURST Tuesday, 28 June 2022 06:51 PM

Sen. Mike Lee faces his first test of 2022 in Utah's Republican primary on Tuesday, where he's being challenged by two well-funded opponents in a race that should offer insight into whether loyalty to former President Donald Trump remains a litmus test for Republican voters.

Former state lawmaker Becky Edwards and businesswoman Ally Isom — neither of whom voted for Trump — have spent months on the campaign trail framing Lee as a divisive politician who cares less about governing than he does television appearances and his allegiance to Trump in the former president's claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election.

Isom has positioned herself as a conservative alternative to Lee, saying she agrees with his positions on most issues, yet disapproves of his uncompromising approach to governance.

Edwards similarly disapproves of Lee's approach but has also staked out more moderate positions on key issues; she’s rebuked Trump for continuing to allege election fraud two years after the 2020 election and said she disagrees with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to revisit Roe v. Wade and abortion rights.

Lee has mostly remained above the fray and not responded to the intraparty attacks. He's instead highlighted his steadfast support for conservative principles and focusing on tried-and-true rhetoric about the U.S. Constitution and criticisms of federal overreach.

The heated primary is a marked difference from Lee's first reelection campaign in 2016. That year, no primary challengers came forward to challenge him in arch-conservative Utah, after the one-time tea party insurgent successfully consolidated support from both grassroots conservatives and establishment Republicans.

Despite efforts from his opponents, Lee won 71% of the delegate vote at the state GOP’s April convention and remains overwhelmingly popular among party activists.

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