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tah Republican Sen. Mike Lee captured a third term Tuesday night after his same-state GOP colleague in the upper chamber de facto backed Lee’s challenger, a Democrat masquerading as an independent.
Mitt Romney, the junior senator from Utah, was the only Republican senator who refused Lee an endorsement against failed 2016 third-party presidential candidate Evan McMullin. In April, Romney told Politico his refusal to endorse in the contest was due to having “two friends” in the race.
“I don’t get involved in primaries and I don’t endorse,” Romney said, despite attending a fundraiser for Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney days later. Cheney went on to lose her August primary by more than 36 points to Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman. And had many Democrat voters not changed their party registration to support Cheney in the GOP contest, her losing margins would have been far wider.
McMullin ran as a self-proclaimed independent but pulled the endorsement of the Democrats in April as the party’s official candidate and solicited donations through ActBlue. His campaign, funded by Democrats, became nearly indistinguishable from Democrats in other states, considering his pro-abortion platform and hyperventilating about democracy supposedly being in danger if Republicans won. On the debate stage in October, McMullin fabricated charges against Lee, saying the incumbent had conspired with the White House to hijack the Electoral College and turn the 2020 election for President Donald Trump.