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Sen. Mike Lee pushes aside primary challengers Becky Edwards and Ally Isom

Election 2022 Senate Primary, Becky Edwards Concession, June 28, 2022
Emily Means
/
KUER
Becky Edwards addresses her supporters after the Associated Press called the GOP Primary for U.S. Senate for her opponent, incumbent Sen. Mike Lee, June 28, 2022.

Preliminary election results show a majority of Utah GOP primary voters have picked two-term Sen. Mike Lee as the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in the November general election.

Lee won 60% of the vote. Former state Rep. Becky Edwards got about 30% and business leader Ally Isom received 8%.

The Associated Press called the race in Lee’s favor just 20 minutes after polls closed at 8 p.m.

During a KSL live stream of his victory speech, Lee painted his win in the GOP primary as a referendum on Democratic policies and leadership in Washington.

“The Utah Republican voters have spoken tonight, and they've made a choice,” Lee said. “They've made a choice for freedom, for free markets and religious liberty. They've made a choice rejecting the Biden administration's failed policies. They've made a choice to embrace the inalienable right to life and Utah's values.”

The results weren’t surprising, as the incumbent senator has consistently polled as the favorite among likely Republican voters.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t disappointing for his challengers.

Edwards hosted her election night party at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City. Before the race results were announced, family and supporters jammed to oldies while munching on popcorn and hot dogs.

Election 2022 Senate Primary, Becky Edwards Sugar House Party, June 28, 2022
Emily Means
/
KUER
A big flag made of balloons decorated the park pavilion where Becky Edwards hosted her election night party.

By the time she finished giving her concession speech, she was met with big tears from her small grandson — though she said it was nothing a snow cone couldn’t fix.

Edwards gave similar consolations to her supporters.

“I have so many examples in my life of how to do hard things, and what it means to do the next hard thing,” she said. “I know that you already know this … There are a million ways to make a difference in our community. I look forward to what all of us can continue to do in the future to make Utah a better place.”

For Isom, she said the vote breakdown is a result of strong funding efforts by Lee’s campaign.

Still, she and her team were celebrating the opportunity to share their message with Utahns.

“I'm more hope-filled than I've ever been in terms of what can be for our country,” Isom said. “I think a lot of people are tired of politics as usual and are ready for a different kind of conversation. We feel like we made a difference in the way the dialogue is held, and that's important to us.”

Election 2022 Senate Primary, Becky Edwards with grandson June 28, 2022
Emily Means
/
KUER
Becky Edwards comforts her grandson — and suggests a snow cone — after preliminary election results show she lost to Sen. Mike Lee, June 28, 2022.

Now, Lee is set to face unaffiliated candidate Evan McMullin in the general election. Democrats chose not to put forth a candidate from their own party and support McMullin’s efforts instead.

McMullin said he’s working to bring together a coalition of voters across the political spectrum who want a change in representation.

He said he wants to have an “honorable” race, where he and Lee are “committed to truth.” But he said he’s preparing for a tough fight.

“He and the extremists who support him are willing to do anything to hold on to power,” McMullin said. “That is not the Utah way.”

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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