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Both Of Sen. Mike Lee’s GOP Challengers Opposed Trump — That Could Hurt Them In The Primary

Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, faces two major Republican challengers: Ally Isom and Becky Edwards.
Headshots Courtesy of Respective Campaigns
Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, faces two major Republican challengers: Ally Isom and Becky Edwards.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, has been an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, but both of his major Republican challengers have publicly taken the opposite position.

Ally Isom, a staffer for former Gov. Gary Herbert and former spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced earlier this month she would be running for Lee’s seat.

Isom left the GOP the day after Trump was elected, and voted for someone else in 2020. She wouldn’t say who — just that it wasn’t Joe Biden.

Now, she is back with the party and wants to look forward.

“We want to solve these big problems in ways that align with core principles of fiscal responsibility and limited government and state power,” she said. “I reject the fact that anyone would say there's a litmus test for being a good Republican.”

Former state Rep. Becky Edwards is also running to unseat Lee. She was part of a group called Women of Faith Speak Up and Speak Out that encouraged Utah voters to reject Trump during last year’s election.

Edwards and Isom have shied away from directly criticizing the former president during their campaigns so far, but Brigham Young University political scientist Adam Dynes said their past statements still matter.

“There are Republicans who are dissatisfied with Trump,” he said, “But he still got about 60% of the vote in 2020. … So I do think the fact that some of these challengers didn't vote for Trump and have been up front about that might make it a bit challenging for them to get the nomination.”

Dynes also said it makes sense that Lee doesn’t have a major challenger from the more conservative, pro-Trump wing of the GOP that he belongs to.

“Mike Lee enjoys strong support from more conservative Republicans —- that's his base,” he said. “Generally, challengers are going to run when they see there's an opportunity. If you're a conservative Republican … you don't have a good chance of winning votes away from Sen. Lee in the primary.”

Lee’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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