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Utah GOP delegates overwhelming pick Sen. Mike Lee as their primary nominee

Mike Lee holds his hands up in victory at the Utah GOP nominating convention.
Ivana Martinez
Sen. Mike Lee received a little over 70% of the vote from delegates at Saturday’s state GOP convention.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee is heading into his primary election with a strong endorsement from state GOP delegates. A little over 70% of them voted to nominate him during their convention Saturday.

“It's a good result. 70% figured we might, you know, finish somewhere close to that, a little higher than I thought,” Lee said.

The state’s senior senator will be joined by two Republican challengers on the ballot, though. Former state Rep. Becky Edwards and Ally Isom, former Deputy Chief of Staff for Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, both gathered enough signatures to qualify for the primary. Lee also gathered signatures.

During their speeches, Edwards slammed Lee for not keeping his campaign promises. Both Isom and Edwards have a more moderate tone than Lee and have promised to focus on conservative policies without contributing to Washington D.C.’s divisiveness.

We are seeing far too much violence, pettiness and greed in our politicians. That needs to change,” Edwards said in her speech. “Let me ask you. Has our government gotten smaller in the last 12 years? Has debt gotten under control? Has there been any movement towards a balanced budget amendment? … No. No he has not done his job.”

A couple of boos followed Edwards speech. After the votes were counted, Edwards said the nearly 12% of the votes she received while opposing an incumbent senator in a red state was a success.

“We're looking at this as an opportunity to engage with our delegates who went to caucus night, many of them, for the first time, got elected as delegates and have participated here today,” she said.“We feel really enthusiastic. Our goal has always been focused on the Republican primary in June. We're pleased to have secured a location on that ballot.”

Lee recently came under fire for leaked text messages between him and then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The messages show that Lee advised and then warned against the Trump administration’s attempts to overturn the election. Lee defended his actions in an interview with the Deseret News and said he was “not there to do his [Meadows’] bidding.”

Lee said on Saturday that he “just did his job the way he always promised he would.”

I knew what a disaster Joe Biden would be,” he said. “And so right after the election I encouraged the Trump campaign to do whatever it could do to seek the necessary audits and recounts and encourage the Trump campaign and the president himself to acknowledge that he'd accept whatever the outcome of the Electoral College was.”

Lee said he wouldn’t put a term limit on himself but would make a decision every six years. He said he was going to continue to focus on national inflation as he heads to the primaries.

The primary election is June 28.

Ivana is a general assignment reporter
Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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