Lee and McMullin scheduled to satisfy in Utah Senate debate

OREM, Utah (AP) — Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee and his unbiased challenger Evan McMullin are scheduled to satisfy Monday night at a televised debate three weeks earlier than Election Day.

Although Utah is a deeply conservative state that has been represented by Republicans within the U.S. Senate since 1976, the race has develop into surprisingly aggressive, with each candidates bombarding airwaves and mailboxes with assault advertisements and campaigning aggressively all through the state.

Lee, a second-term Republican, has represented Utah since he unseated an institution Republican within the 2010 Tea Occasion wave. Although earlier than the 2016 election he denounced Donald Trump’s rhetoric and hardline positions on immigration and refugees, all through the previous president’s tenure, he emerged as one in all his most loyal allies.

Given Lee’s trajectory, many observers see the race as a referendum on the path Trump has taken the Republican Occasion. It’s going to mirror whether or not Republicans proceed to have a stranglehold on voters in Utah, a state the place a majority of voters are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Polling has proven Trump has fared worse than different Republicans with members of the religion, which locations a excessive worth on manners and eschews alcohol and foul language.

McMullin is a former CIA agent and Home Republican staffer who left the social gathering and ran for president as an unbiased in 2016, successful multiple out of each 5 votes in Utah. He hopes to channel the state’s reasonable popularity and anti-Trump sentiment. He efficiently persuaded the state Democratic Occasion to not nominate a candidate of their very own earlier this 12 months, hoping to cobble collectively a coalition of Democrats, independents and disillusioned Republicans to unseat Lee.

McMullin’s marketing campaign has centered largely on depicting Lee as a risk to democracy, highlighting textual content messages he despatched to Trump Chief of Employees Mark Meadows within the lead-up to the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol. The texts present Lee asking for recommendation on the way to contribute to efforts to problem the election outcomes. Lee has defended his actions by saying he merely meant to look into the authorized arguments and noting that he in the end voted to certify the outcomes.

Lee’s marketing campaign path message has highlighted his file of voting in line with his ideas, even when it may be unpopular or threaten authorities shutdown. He has attacked McMullin for not articulating positions on key midterm election points — together with abortion and infrastructure spending — and argued {that a} vote for him may deny Republicans a majority and sway the Senate to Democrats.

Lee stays overwhelmingly common among the many Republican base, which enthusiastically backed him on the social gathering’s April conference.

Although Utah has been an electoral afterthought in previous cycles, this 12 months’s Senate race has attracted nationwide consideration. Democratic presidential major candidate Andrew Yang campaigned for McMullin in Salt Lake Metropolis final week and Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger is scheduled to hitch him on Thursday in Salt Lake Metropolis. Wyoming Sen. John Barasso and Rep. Chip Roy traveled to Utah to help Lee final week. The appropriate-leaning political motion committee Membership for Progress has funneled hundreds of thousands into advertisements in help of Lee.

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