September 24, 2022
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah has a hard political fight ahead. His main challenger in November, Evan McMullin, says Sen. Lee is extreme with his abortion views.

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The landmark Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade is already impacting one of the more unique midterm races in the country, where Utah Republican incumbent Senator Mike Lee is facing one of tougher contests of his political career.

If Lee defeats two primary challengers on Tuesday, he’ll face off in November against an independent – former Republican congressional aide and CIA officer Evan McMullin, who has the backing of the state’s Democratic Party. 

Head-to-head polls here are close.  Lee tops McMullin 41%-35%, according to the latest survey from Desert News/Hinkley Institute of Politics. One in five voters say they are still undecided.

Utah is one of more than a dozen states with a so-called trigger law on abortion.  While it has been a reliably red state, McMullin says Lee is out of step with Utah voters on the issue. 

UNITED STATES - JULY 20: Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks during the news conference in the Capitol. If Lee defeats two primary challengers on Tuesday, he’ll face off in November against an independent - former Republican congressional aide and CIA officer Evan McMullin, who has the backing of the state’s Democratic party. 

UNITED STATES – JULY 20: Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks during the news conference in the Capitol. If Lee defeats two primary challengers on Tuesday, he’ll face off in November against an independent – former Republican congressional aide and CIA officer Evan McMullin, who has the backing of the state’s Democratic party.  ((Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images))

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“I think that he, like many other politicians in our country, have played politics with this obviously critical issue, McMullin said in an interview with Fox News. “And they do it because they think that if they divide Americans against each other, they can raise more money.”

McMullen added, “it’s an appeal to extremism that that I believe is very destructive for our country and unnecessary. There is common ground on this issue. Most Americans are in the middle on this issue, and most Utahns are not for either extreme. When you see politicians appealing to the extremes to try to divide the country, it’s about their self-interest.”

The Lee campaign fired back, saying the Senator has advocated for overturning Roe v. Wade for years, and accusing McMullin of flip-flopping on the issue.

Third party candidate Evan McMullin, an independent, talks to the press as he campaigns in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 12, 2016. "I think that [Lee], like many other politicians in our country, have played politics with this obviously critical issue," McMullin said in an interview with Fox News. "And they do it because they think that if they divide Americans against each other, they can raise more money."

Third party candidate Evan McMullin, an independent, talks to the press as he campaigns in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 12, 2016. “I think that [Lee], like many other politicians in our country, have played politics with this obviously critical issue,” McMullin said in an interview with Fox News. “And they do it because they think that if they divide Americans against each other, they can raise more money.” (REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo)

“Overturning Roe isn’t extreme and upholding the Constitution isn’t an act of extremism,” Lee Campaign Spokesman Matt Lusky tells Fox News.  “In 2016, McMullin supported justices willing to overturn Roe. The 2022 version of McMullin seems to have conveniently flipped to a far different position. Suggesting the overturn of Roe was an act of extremism shows McMullin’s fundamental disconnect with Utahns and Utah law.”

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The Utah State Capitol building in Salt Lake City. The Utah trigger law, passed in 2020, bans all elective abortions in the state with exceptions for rape and incest, the health or safety of the mother or fetal viability. 

The Utah State Capitol building in Salt Lake City. The Utah trigger law, passed in 2020, bans all elective abortions in the state with exceptions for rape and incest, the health or safety of the mother or fetal viability.  (Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

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The Utah trigger law, passed in 2020, bans all elective abortions in the state with exceptions for rape and incest, the health or safety of the mother or fetal viability.  

On Saturday, the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah filed a lawsuit seeking to block it.