Utah GOP Senator Mitt Romney, who has been suspected of being squishy on conservative issues, has refused to endorse fellow Utah GOP Senator Mike Lee, a strong conservative in his re-election campaign, outraging his fellow GOP senators.
Lee, an expert on the Constitution, is facing Evan McMullin in November. McMullin ran a campaign in 2016 that likely siphoned votes from Donald Trump in his battle with Hillary Clinton.
As for McMullin, a Washington Post columnist acknowledged last February that after his campaign to derail Trump, McMullin “became an independent and founded a political organization called Stand Up Republic that worked to defeat far-right candidates in GOP primaries and to elect moderate Democrats like President Biden.”
“He considers both friends, so I don’t expect him to make an endorsement in this race,” a “source close to Romney” told the Post columnist.
On September 9, Lee posted a list of the GOP senators who supported him for re-election. Every GOP senator was listed except one: Romney. “I am grateful for the support of my Senate colleagues. Together, we will continue the fight for the American people. The failures of the Biden Administration and Democrats have damaged our nation for long enough,” Lee tweeted.
I am grateful for the support of my Senate colleagues. Together, we will continue the fight for the American people. The failures of the Biden Administration and Democrats have damaged our nation for long enough. pic.twitter.com/EyeeWg7ySg
— Mike Lee (@MikeLeeforUtah) September 9, 2022
Lee’s campaign spokesman stated that the senators on the list had either publicly endorsed Lee, donated to his campaign, or expressed support for him, Deseret News reported.
Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist spoke to various GOP senators about Romney’s refusal to back Lee. One told her, “I respect [Romney], and I understand that each state has its own dynamics, but I do not understand why he is remaining neutral. Whatever our differences, we all try to support each other around election time.”
“We should not have to be worried about Utah in any way. I don’t know what he thinks he’s doing, but it’s not going over well, particularly with the [senators] who are up for chairmanships,” another senator told her.
The Washington Post’s Henry Olsen pointed out as far back as March, “It should be a no-brainer for Romney to endorse his fellow Republican. Regaining control of the Senate is one of the GOP’s most important objectives, and that means marshaling every conceivable vote to make that happen.”
On July 4, America’s Independence Day, Romney praised President Joe Biden while disparaging former President Donald Trump, writing in The Atlantic, “President Joe Biden is a genuinely good man, but he has yet been unable to break through our national malady of denial, deceit, and distrust. A return of Donald Trump would feed the sickness, probably rendering it incurable.”