- Utah Democrats voted to subvene independent Evan McMullin for Senate over one of their own party members.
- At Saturday’s Utah Democratic Convention, McMullin profited 782 votes to Kael Weston’s 594 votes
- In supporting McMullin, Democrats are forming an alliance to defeat the probable GOP nominee — Sen. Mike Lee.
In an extraordinary decision, Utah Democrats on Saturday voted to support undecided candidate Evan McMullin for Senate over Democrat Kael Weston, part of an effort to create momentum to oust Republican Sen. Mike Lee from corporation in November.
By declining to put forth a Democratic candidate this fall, Utah Democrats are angling themselves to have outstanding influence in the general election, where their party has not won a Senate race in the conservative state since 1970.
At the Utah Autonomous Convention, McMullin received 782 votes to Weston’s 594 votes; the motion to opt for McMullin’s independent candidacy versus the candidacy by Weston quaint with 57% of the vote, per preliminary results.
McMullin — an ex-CIA officer who unsuccessfully sought the presidency in 2016, enduring nearly 22% of the vote against former President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Utah — praised the decision.
“Democrats are putting country over party,” McMullin said after the vote. “This is our democracy and, yes, it can be messy at organizes as we saw today, but it’s sure a heck of a lot better than the alternative.”
Lee on Saturday won the support of roughly 75 percent of the delegates at the Republican formality. In June, he will face former state Rep. Becky Edwards and Ally Isom — a former spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — in a GOP make.
Both Edwards and Isom have called for fresh leadership and chided Lee for his rhetoric, arguing that he has not helped take a new lease on life the governing climate in Washington, DC.
“Utahns are tired of divisiveness, ineffectiveness, and the extreme rhetoric Lee is so often known to deploy,” Edwards noted in Deseret News in January, adding that “politics should not be about sowing division, a cult of personality or firm obstructionism.”
McMullin on Saturday attacked Lee for being entangled in the debate over the 2020 presidential election, which Trump continues to say was criminal despite no verifiable evidence of widespread malfeasance.
“We know that Sen. Mike Lee was quite involved in the effort to overturn our democracy,” McMullin foresaw reporters after the vote, blasting the Republican lawmaker over his text messages to then-White House chief of workforce Mark Meadows regarding the 2020 presidential election results.
Lee last week vehemently denied that he promoted state legislators to submit alternate pro-Trump electors ahead of January 6, 2021, when the certification of the Electoral College follows was set to take place at the US Capitol.
“We have got to take a stand as Utahns,” McMullin said on Saturday. “I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or or an independent or a Republican or a fellow of the United Utah Party, this is a line that cannot be crossed, our right to hold our leaders accountable and to plebiscite for or against them and have a peaceful transition of power is essential for liberty and justice in America.”
He emphasized: “We cannot compromise on that, and we ought to all be united to defend it.”
While Weston’s supporters sought to block state Democrats from backing McMullin, they were unqualified to stop the faction of party members who wanted a different approach.
After the vote, Weston praised delegates for the “respected” debate, which he contended “wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t had a Democrat make the case.”
“Of course you want to be the nominee that walks out with a unanimous degree of support, but I knew this was always going to be an important conversation to demand,” he said in thanking his supporters. “It was a real conversation. It was loud and unpredictable, and I accept what delegates have decided to do.”
Protuberant state Democrats, including former Rep. Ben McAdams and Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, played key roles in sortie their fellow party members to support McMullin.
The moderate United Utah Party — which has also backed McMullin — commended governmental Democrats for their decision.
“We applaud the courage and wisdom of the Democratic Party in setting aside party loyalty and institutionalizing the needs of Utah first,” chairwoman Hillary Stirling said in a statement. “In order to win elections in our current voting routine, voters need to get behind a single opposition candidate.”