Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Attorney Mike Lee, Son Of Former BYU President Rex Lee, Jumps Into Republican Race Against Utah U.S. Senator Bob Bennett
On Tuesday January 5th, 2010, Mike Lee formally confirmed his widely-anticipated intention to challenge Utah's incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Bennett for the Republican nomination. This now brings the total number of Republicans in the race back up to five once again, as he joins Bennett, Cherilyn Eagar, Tim Bridgewater, and James Williams. Sam Granato is the lone Democrat in the race so far. Cody Robert Judy is also a declared candidate. Salt Lake Crawlmeister Glen Warchol provides the first media report of Lee's press conference; a new Deseret News story, a new Salt Lake Tribune story, and a KCPW story now available.
Lee's official related campaign websites are available at the following links:
Lee notes that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the size and role of the federal government, as it has grown too big, too expensive, and too oppressive. Instead of focusing on tasks that the Constitution assigns to them, Congress has been babysitting everything from automobile manufacturers to banks, and are now moving on to doctors, insurance companies, and school teachers. He believes the growth of government is not a problem inherent in government itself, but rather a symptom of those who run it. In his opinion, the proper role of Congress is to:
* Keep government spending to a minimum (allowing personal wealth to grow).
* Safeguard life and property.
* Limit the size and reach of the federal government so that States and individuals can better govern themselves.
Lee says he does not plan on running an "anti-Bennett" campaign. Read the rest of Mike Lee's platform HERE. Note that he takes a firm stance against illegal immigration. Videos of the press conference are now posted on Lee's YouTube channel:
-- Part 1: Introductory remarks by Jim Hansen and Norm Bangerter
-- Part 2: Mike Lee speaks
-- Part 3: Mike Lee takes questions
Lee, a prominent Salt Lake City attorney who lives in Alpine, had been holding a series of town hall-style meetings throughout Utah where he spoke about the U.S. Constitution and threats to the founding document. At a gathering of conservative activists in December 2009, he first announced plans to challenge Bennett for the seat.
Mike Lee is the son of Rex Lee, who was solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan and later president of Brigham Young University. A member of the law firm Howrey, LLP, he has represented EnergySolutions and in August 2009, filed a lawsuit on behalf of several Utah counties challenging Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's suspension of 77 oil and gas leases. Previously he served as general counsel to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., where he led the state's legal challenge to Private Fuel Storage's plans to store high-level nuclear waste on an American Indian reservation in Utah. He left to clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Lee also served as an assistant U.S. attorney.
Reaction: Mike Lee already has the support of former Governor Norm Bangerter, former Congressman James Hansen, and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. He is perceived as being clean as a hound's tooth; what little criticism directed towards him is based upon his status as an attorney and his representation of Energy Solutions, which has sought to import nuclear waste into Utah. Bob Bennett welcomed Lee into the Senate race, saying that his decision to run was neither surprising, nor will it affect his campaign strategy. "We are focused on running our campaign regardless of who the challenger is going to be," Bennett said. Lee "has good credentials, but he is getting off to a late start. We'll see how credible he is."
As for the impact on the Republican primary race, opinions are mixed. Holly On The Hill thinks Mike Lee could actually defeat Bob Bennett outright at the state convention, precluding the need for a primary fight. Glen Warchol also thinks Lee is the most credible alternative to Bob Bennett. But while Lee's vision, background and integrity instantly push him ahead of Bridgewater and Williams on the Republican depth charts, he still has Cherilyn Eagar to contend with, and she's been in the race for six months. Eagar's core constituency is the "Palinbots", and they are passionate and loyal about their candidate. Over 100 comments already posted to this early KSL story.
The question is, how much will Mike Lee and Cherilyn Eagar carve into each other as well as into Bob Bennett. I still think there will be a primary fight, but who will be the opponent of Bennett? Bennett still appears too strong to be knocked out altogether at the state convention. Watch the Utah media continue to subtly tilt in favor of Lee over Eagar.