Thursday, February 18, 2010
Former Congressman Dick Armey And FreedomWorks PAC Endorse Utah Senate Candidate Mike Lee, While Newt Gingrich Endorses Bob Bennett
The candidacy of one of Bob Bennett's Republican challengers, Mike Lee, may have received a boost on February 18th, 2010, when FreedomWorks PAC, which is headed up by former "Contract With America" Congressman Dick Armey (R-TX), announced that it has endorsed Mike Lee in the race for Bob Bennett's seat. Media stories published in the Wall Street Journal, the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune. Also discussed on The Hill. The Lee campaign also published a press release HERE.
FreedomWorks PAC, which supports lower taxes, less government and more freedom, said that it is supporting Lee because Bennett abandoned fiscal conservatism long ago. The group attacked Bennett's support of the bailout of financial firms and his proposals for health care reform. They believe Lee's candidacy represents another opportunity for the true-blue conservative, limited-government advocates to elevate a serious reformer rooted in free-market policy over an establishment politician. They also perceive that Lee's passion for constitutionally limited government and market-based policy reform is clear, and are confident he is someone who can emerge as a leader for fiscal discipline on the national stage. Finally, they also praised Lee's commitment to limited government and his call for a "flat tax." FreedomWorks does not actually donate to candidates, but funnels money to boost grass-roots support in various races.
[Ed. Note: Lee has not yet finalized his proposed flat tax with actual numbers. But he's concerned about the fact that in his perception, 50 percent of wage earners pay little or no taxes, thus having little incentive to question new government programs that are funded by the real taxpayers. He believes that until we reform the tax code to give all Americans a stake in their government (through a flat tax), Congress will continue to adopt new entitlements, new bailouts, and new relief programs.]
Lee is enthused about the endorsement, saying it would help build momentum for his campaign against Bennett and he's glad to be tied with FreedomWorks, which is considered part of the Tea Party movement. "This will help draw attention to the fact that what I am doing as a candidate, what I stand for as a candidate, and what I plan to do as a U.S. senator," Lee said, "is hand in glove with what the Tea Party movement stands for".
The Bennett campaign reacted phlegmatically. "The decision about who should be Utah's senator is one that Utahns will make on their own," Bennett said through his son and campaign spokesman, Jim Bennett. "I am gratified that my endorsements have come from Utah leaders, mayors and county commissioners who are closest to the citizens." Other Bennett endorsements have come from the next President of the United States, Mitt Romney, former Bush White House eminence grise Karl Rove, and another previous "Contractor With America", Newt Gingrich. Gingrich even traveled to Utah earlier this month for Bennett's formal campaign kickoff and for a fundraiser. Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Rob Bishop also reportedly support Bennett.
Prognosis: The Armey endorsement does provide a boost to Mike Lee, and may put him into a virtual tie with Cherilyn Eagar in the race to replace Bennett, although Eagar can point to the fact that she's been campaigning longer as a strength. But a national endorsement can be a double-edged sword; one commenter to the Deseret News is already complaining about outside carpetbaggers trying to affect Utah races. The Gingrich endorsement will NOT help Bennett; Gingrich is perceived as just another Beltway insider.