Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), a Democrat, decided not to endorse Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). This has angered Senate Republicans and conservative activists.
Utah’s junior senator Romney has declined to endorse Lee’s bid for reelection. Lee is Utah’s senior senator.
Sen. Republicans in the Senate are increasingly concerned by this decision. They note that although they may disagree on policy, they usually stand united against Republican foes.
The refusal of Romney to endorse Lee could help Evan McMullin, the Never Trumper candidate and unsuccessful 2016 presidential candidate, in his Senate campaign. This move by Romney has placed Senate Republicans on defense in an area that Lee should win easily.
“We shouldn’t have to worry about Utah in any manner. “I don’t know what the senator thinks he is doing, but it’s not going well, especially with the [senators] up for chairmanships,” another Senate Republican stated.
Romney claimed that he couldn’t endorse any candidate in the race due to his friendship with Lee and McMullin. However, Mollie Hemingway, Federalist, said “it’s not clear why he thought that his previously unannounced friendship and support for McMullin would be harmed if he supported Republican incumbents and candidates as all other Republicans do.”
Even Henry Olsen, Washington Post’s editor, rebuked Romney for his logic.
“That’s nice, but loyalty to the party is important, too. It’s one thing for one to disagree with one’s party. That’s why primaries exist. It’s quite another to declare that one will not vote in a general election. This basically tells your state’s voters that it doesn’t matter if your party’s nominee is supported by your party’s enemies. Olsen said that Lee should stop relying on his friendship for this kind of friendship.
The Post noted that McMullin’s refusal to endorse Lee was a “boon” and would make it harder for Lee to win the votes of moderate Republicans.
This would enable McMullin to implement his strategy, which involves building a coalition with Democrats, independents and Romney, in order to defeat the two-term Senate conservative.
Utah Democrats endorsed McMullin’s bid to remove Lee, even though McMullin stated after the endorsement that he would no longer caucus either with Republicans or Democrats if he joined ranks with Romney in Senate.
Jessica Anderson, president of Heritage Action for America said:
While it is disappointing that Senator Romney has been placed in the back seat of his in-state counterpart’s race, Senator Mike Lee enjoys wide support from Utahns and across the country. Conservatives must use every tool available to regain the Senate. This includes supporting incumbent Senators in crucial races.
McMullin’s decision to make Romney Switzerland has given McMullin the opportunity to call Lee “conman,” spread conspiracy theories against Lee and misinform Republicans.
McMullin, for instance, claimed that Lee “betrayed” the Constitution by trying to “overturn American votes”.
Rachel Bovard was the Conservative Partnership Institute’s policy director. She noted that Lee voted to certify 2020 elections, despite McMullin’s claims.
Stand Together’s vice president for international policy Dan Caldwell stated that Mike Lee’s real problem with him is not being a neoconservative like Mitt Romney. He is also a vocal critic to the security state.
If Romney refused to endorse Lee, many Romney colleagues would not be able to become chairmen of different committees. This would make them less well-positioned to resist the Biden administration.
McMullin and other Democrat-endorsed lawmakers could keep control of Senate, which would mean Bernie Sanders would be the chair of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, rather than Rand Paul. Gary Peters would take over as the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairman, replacing James Lankford. Dick Durbin would lead the powerful Judiciary Committee, and not Lindsey Graham. Maria Cantwell would be the Commerce Committee’s chair, in place of Ted Cruz.