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Salt Lake County Mayor says endorsing Independent Evan McMullin is the ‘pragmatic’ choice for Democrats

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“I'd rather play for a six-year opportunity to have Evan McMullin’s door open for all Utahns, rather than making a point for the next eight months as Democrats and losing badly,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson about her endorsement.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson identifies as a Democrat, but she recently endorsed independent candidate Evan McMullin in his race for the U.S. Senate.

Wilson said, historically, she’s always endorsed candidates from her own party. Kael Weston, who ran for Congress in 2020, is the only Democrat who filed for this year’s Senate race.

But she said in this race, where people are challenging incumbent Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, it’s about being “pragmatic.”

“I fully understand that Evan won't represent what I would like 100% of the time, but I'll take an Evan McMullin who will engage and listen,” Wilson said. “I feel like Democrats will at least have a seat at the table with independents, when we have been shut out by Mike Lee for far too many years.”

Ideally, Wilson said the November ballot will have just two choices — Lee and McMullin — and no Democrat. Along with her endorsement, she’s asking her party’s delegates to vote “no candidate” during its convention on April 23.

“I think Democrats would pick Evan,” she said. “I'd rather play for a six-year opportunity to have Evan McMullin’s door open for all Utahns, rather than making a point for the next eight months as Democrats and losing badly.”

Jamie Cheek, a former Democratic candidate for Congress, is running to be a delegate for this year’s convention.

She said she also wants to unseat Lee, but she doesn’t think this is the way to do it.

“What I don't think works is that we have Democratic Party leaders trying to push a Democrat off the ballot,” Cheek said. “If Evan McMullin is so great for Utah, he should go through the democratic process like everyone else, have his name on the ballot in November and compete in a three-way race and prove to Democratic voters why he should get their vote.”

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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