Evan McMullin, who ran as a third party independent presidential candidate in 2016, has announced that he will challenge Utah Senator and Trump supporter Mike Lee in next year’s mid-term congressional elections.
McMullin, a CIA veteran who called himself “the opposite of Trump” in 2016, is running a campaign based on ending rank partisanship in Washington, and what he says is the total lack of compromise and cooperation among both Democrats and Republicans.
In the announcement of his campaign, McMullin stated, “Our politics are broken. And it’s putting our country in danger. We need leaders who will unite rather than divide. Washington has left us so polarized that we’re failing to overcome major problems facing the nation and it has to change.”
Evan McMullin, who won more than 21% of the Utahns’ votes for president in 2016, will challenge Sen. Mike Lee as an independent candidate for Utah’s Senate seat next year, Robert Gehrke reports. https://t.co/a6y5iyeHkx
— The Salt Lake Tribune (@sltrib) October 4, 2021
2016 Presidential Campaign
Evan McMullin did not launch his presidential campaign until August of 2016. While he stood no chance of winning the White House because he got less than one percent of the popular vote nationwide, he managed to get 21% of the popular vote in Utah. He still finished behind Trump and Clinton.
He is not shy about his opinion of former President Donald Trump. However, that may make political aspirations in Utah an uphill battle. In 2016, Trump got 45% of the vote in Utah, that increased to 58% in 2020.
In mid-January, 36% of Utah voters believed Trump legitimately won the election, including 44% of McMullin’s fellow Mormons.
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This may be a sign that there is not much never-Trump sentiment in Utah.
Following his failed presidential run, McMullin founded “Stand Up Republic,” a non-profit that is, “focused on uniting Americans across party lines around founding ideals.”
#BREAKING: Evan McMullin, former “never Trump” 2016 presidential candidate will challenge Republican Sen. Mike Lee as an independent candidate for Utah’s Senate seat next year.
Retweet if you support @EvanMcMullin
— Republicans against Trumpism (@RpsAgainstTrump) October 4, 2021
Gathering Never Trumpers
Since 2016, McMullen and his co-organizer Miles Taylor, former Department of Homeland Security official under Trump, but who is better known as the author of a 2018 New York Times Op-ed under the name of “Anonymous,” entitled, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” has met with other prominent Never-Trumpers.
According to Deseret News, since the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building, roughly 140,000 Republicans changed their Party affiliation.
In February, McMullin and Taylor hosted a virtual event called, “The New Conservatives Summit.” In on the secret meeting were names like Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and former Trump White House officials John Mitnick and Elizabeth Neumann.
McMullen and his band of Never Trumpers became even more determined after Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) lost her leadership position in May, McMullin and more than 150 conservatives signed a letter stating that unless the Party returned to “founding American principles,” they would leave the Party.
Some of those signing on included failed GOP presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, disgraced former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, and attorney and husband of Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, George Conway.
I hate to break it to y’all, but the chances that Evan McMullin beats Mike Lee as an independent candidate are about as high as the chances that Lee loses the GOP nomination…basically 0.
And no, Dems should NOT cede the field to McMullin. That would be ridiculous.😐#utpol
— Ben Anderson👨🏻💻 (@BenAndersonUT) October 4, 2021
Challenging The Incumbent In 2022
While no one is openly challenging Evan McMullin’s conservative credentials, beating the incumbent is always biting off a lot to chew.
And with voting scores on conservative issues from conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation and Freedomworks, the challenge may be even bigger.
The Heritage foundation gives Sen. Mike Lee a score of 96% conservative voting record on issues like the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, no on a cloture vote of the “For the People” Act, and voting no on the confirmation of now Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. At Freedomworks, Lee does even better with a 100% conservative score.
Things still may be a bit rough for Evan McMullin and his fellow Never Trumpers looking ahead to 2024.
For Republicans, Donald Trump remains the frontrunner for the nomination should he decide to run again.
And while less than half of the signers of the letter threatening to leave the Party want to form a new party if some change does not occur within the GOP, they say they “will explore an alternative party.”
America has reached a crossroads. Extremism, division and conspiracy now threaten our quality of life and democratic republic. In Utah, we have a better way. It’s more compassionate, selfless and independent. That’s why I’m running to represent Utah in the U.S. Senate. Join us! pic.twitter.com/4DSS8jEeP9
— Evan McMullin 🇺🇸 (@EvanMcMullin) October 5, 2021