Utah Democrats back independent Evan McMullin in his race against GOP Sen. Mike Lee

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Utah Democrats made the unusual move to back independent candidate Evan McMullin in his run against Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who was asked about his furious push to nullify the 2020 election to keep the President Donald Trump in power.

Democrats voted 57% to 43% not to endorse a candidate at their convention on Saturday. Instead, they hope to lift the candidacy of McMullin, a never-Trump conservative who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2016 but did well in Utah.

“Today we took an important step in building a new coalition of Democrats, Republicans and independents to change our broken politics,” McMullin tweeted Saturday. “I am grateful for the support of the Democratic delegates who voted to join us and for the honorable campaign of Kael Weston. Forward!”

Democrat Kael Weston sought his party’s nomination, but a group of party members supporting McMullin, including former Democratic congressman Ben McAdams, convinced delegates not to nominate anyone, allowing McMullin, a former CIA officer, to get as much support as possible.

Evan McMullin’s impact on the 2022 Senate battle

McMullin drew a sizable share of support – 22% – from Utah conservatives seeking an alternative to Trump in 2016 – including Lee, then a vocal critic. Since Utah hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate in more than half a century, some party members have concluded that McMullin is their best chance of defeating Lee, a die-hard Trump supporter.

Text conversations reviewed by CNN earlier this month revealed that Lee, who previously called on Trump to drop out of his presidential run after recordings of him bragging about sexual assaults surfaced, worked hard to cancel the 2020 election to keep Trump in power.

According to messages to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Lee strongly supported the president’s efforts to overturn the election through legal challenges. Meadows had provided the messages to the House committee investigating the deadly pro-Trump mob attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Lee offered the White House aide his “unequivocal support for you to exhaust every legal and constitutional remedy available to you to restore Americans’ confidence in our elections” on November 7, 2020, the day the security agencies press projected Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden as the winner.

The lawmaker told Meadows he was devoting “14 hours a day” to this effort and reaching out to state lawmakers looking for a loophole to give Congress a reason not to count electoral votes for Biden that would confirm thus his victory. The lawmaker ultimately abandoned the effort when no evidence of widespread fraud surfaced and his outreach to states for surrogate voters was unproductive.

McMullin strongly criticized Lee after the revelation, saying the lawmaker “committed an unpardonable betrayal of his oath and of the public trust.”

“Whether Lee accepts it or not, we’re still a democracy and he’s still accountable to us,” he previously told the Washington Post. “He owes Utahns and the entire country a full and honest account of his role in this shameless betrayal. He has no place in the US Senate, and I ask Utahns of all political affiliations to hold him accountable.

Lee was recently filmed dodging questions about his attempt to nullify the election. Most notably, Mitt Romney (R-Utah), one of Trump’s most vocal critics in the Senate, did not endorse Lee.

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