Utah Democrats are evidently tired of losing and have decided to throw the dice and nominate independent candidate Evan McMullin to run for Senate.
McMullin was an independent candidate for president in 2016, and before that had worked for two House Committees under Republican chairs. But he hates Trump, so that appears to be enough for Utah Democrats to qualify him to run as a Democrat.
The decision to nominate was not unanimous. Indeed, there was almost blood on the floor at the Cottonwood High School in Murray where the convention took place.
After a procedural morning of introducing nominees for state races, Wilson made a motion to ask the party “to join Evan McMullin’s independent coalition to beat Mike Lee.”
For the next two hours, infighting, debate and insults between Democrats ensued on the convention floor.
Several delegates booed Wilson and a shouting match broke out between the camps, prompting Utah Democratic Convention Chair Jeff Merchant to say he would not tolerate anyone speaking out of order. One delegate in the crowd, Rob Wabley, shouted “Shame on you!” and “Spineless!”
“We should put forward a Democrat,” the Vernal resident said.
It’s been more than 50 years since a Democrat represented Utah in the Senate. And judging by the reception to McMullin, it’s going to be 50 more years before a Democrat wins.
McMullins was a CIA officer in the decade immediately after 9/11 and then quit to make his fortune as an investment banker. His connections to the pre-Trump Republican Party are deep, but he apparently decided to leave the party because of his Trump hatred.
But the state GOP is not taking McMullin for granted. In 2016, McMullin won 21% of the vote for president in Utah. He is going to be well-funded, and the Democratic message machine is going to try and tie Mike Lee to the “insurrection” on Jan. 6.
Utah GOP Chair Carson Jorgensen told delegates at Saturday’s Republican convention about Democrats supporting Evan McMullin in the U.S. Senate race.
”They don’t believe in their own platform enough to get behind their candidate,” Jorgensen said.
He gave a stark warning to GOP delegates: ”I don’t think you grasp the gravity of the situation. We need to show up and vote, or it could be trouble.”
The unsettled state of American politics makes Jorgensen’s warning far-sighted. The GOP’s biggest enemy going into the midterms is complacency. And while Mike Lee is very popular with Republicans, getting 70% of the vote at the GOP convention, his supporters still have to turn out to bring him victory.
McMullin is a curiosity — a Democrat who supports many GOP positions on the issues but can’t stomach the party leader. When it’s all said and done, McMullin will be rejected by both sides — and rightly so.