Utah Senator Mike Lee is up for re-election this year. His opponent is Evan McMullin, whose campaign ads, touting his experience as a CIA operative, are currently popping up in my feed at an impressive and alarming rate. According to the Deseret News, which published the results of a poll last week, the race is tight. The poll by the Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics showed Lee with a very slight edge over McMullin, with Utahans favoring the incumbent 36% to 34%. Not much breathing room for Lee, there.
I knew Mike Lee back in his salad days when he successfully ran to replace Bob Bennett. I used to interview him on a regular basis and used one of those interviews for an op-ed on Townhall years ago. Lee is a former clerk for the U.S. District Court in Utah and was an Assistant Attorney General for the district. He clerked for Samuel Alito before and during Alito’s time on the Supreme Court. He is in fact, a Constitutional scholar and can probably quote and apply the document from front to back.
Since I am not a wanna-be talk radio star anymore, I don’t see Lee that often, aside from the conventions around election time. But I can tell you this: the man hasn’t changed. Given my state of residency and my background, I watch Utah politics. I know from personal experience that Lee has always cared about not just the national issues, but also the things that concern his constituents, including those whose voice is not always heard even at the state level. Whether it is jobs, energy, you name it, Lee has always supported his country and his state. I remember doing the above-mentioned interview with him about Obamacare. He was the only legislator I ever talked to who said that the denizens of D.C. had no clue what was going on in the rest of the country.
I did not work for a major news outlet; it was rather obscure by any standard. But Lee never showed up with some vanilla, prepackaged set of talking points. He talked to me and my listeners the same way he would talk to an anchor on Fox News or C-SPAN. He could, as Kipling said, “… walk with crowds and keep your virtue/Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch.”
Lee has always been about small government, adherence to the Constitution, and the rights of the people. He was integral in introducing the REINS Act, which was meant to limit federal power, along with nine bills opposing a federal vaccine mandate and bills to improve the process for importing goods. You can see a comprehensive list of Lee’s bills here. In other words, he is an actual conservative, which is the worst thing you can be inside the Beltway.
If I have any beef with Mike Lee, it’s that he and his staff used to bring their Blackberries into the studio (Blackberries are what we used to lug around before the invention of smartphones, kids). The signals would create static on the airwaves. But what was I supposed to say? “Hey, Senator! How many times do I gotta tell ya? Turn off your @#$%& Blackberry fer cryin’ out loud!”
It was no surprise to me to learn that Utah’s answer to Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney (Can we just call him “Liz” Romney?), refused to give Lee his endorsement ahead of the midterms.
The Deseret News said that a campaign spokesman stated that the support included endorsements, donations, or expressions of support. The same article quoted Romney as saying, “I don’t think endorsements make any difference in a race to speak of. People in the race are my friends. I usually try and avoid situations where they’ve been friends. I may endorse and I may not, but I really haven’t given it any thought at this point.”
Romney, of course, voted to impeach Donald Trump when no viable reason existed. He also allegedly told Joe Biden that he had to run as far back as 2018. Remember that this is the same Biden who railed that Romney would put black people “back in chains” during Romney’s failed presidential run. And does anyone else remember the Romney/Obama debates? Do you remember the first one where Romney came out great guns, won hands down, and then proceeded to tank the following debates like the 1919 Chicago White Sox? Romney has also written that America is in a state of denial and that:
President Joe Biden is a genuinely good man, but he has yet been unable to break through our national malady of denial, deceit, and distrust. A return of Donald Trump would feed the sickness, probably rendering it incurable. Congress is particularly disappointing: Our elected officials put a finger in the wind more frequently than they show backbone against it. Too often, Washington demonstrates the maxim that for evil to thrive only requires good men to do nothing.
Romney is criticizing elected officials who put a finger in the wind? Really? Really? I’ll wait for the laughter to die down.
And of course, there was the trial run for Obamacare that Romney put forward while he was governor of Massachusetts.
Lee has been wisely circumspect about Romney’s betrayal, but Mollie Hemingway has a piece in The Federalist that you can read here.
I was at the Utah GOP convention when Romney was running for Senator. I voted for his opponent, and Romney was forced into a primary. He won that, I suspect, because he is well known, ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, and was at least nominally LDS. For those of you not in Utah, I assure you that Utah Republicans want Romney out ASAP, and there has been some talk of Jason Chaffetz running for his seat.
After being a governor, running Bain Capital, and the Olympic gains under his belt, Romney wanted to add “Senator” to his resume and money to his pocket. And that is why he is so willing to slip on something sexy and slide into bed with the very people who were calling for his head just a few short elections ago.