You may remember Evan McMullin from his previous irrelevance. Like his completely authentic 2016 presidential campaign as part of an entirely credible plan to throw the election to Congress (remember when that was hailed as a plan to save democracy in 2016, before it became an evil plot to be investigated in 2020).
His presidential campaign, which was supposed to appeal to anti-Trump Republicans, won 0.50% of the vote.
Well behind the 3% of Gary Johnson and the 1% from Jill Stein, both of whom were credited with helping torpedo Hillary.
The only places McMullin even placed were Arkansas, Colorado, (for some reason Idaho), Kentucky, South Carolina and of course Utah.
Since most of those states were never seriously in contention, McMullin just wasted a bunch of time and Never Trumper cash.
But, much like Beto O’Rourke he’s back and Politico decided to give his Senate campaign a splashy magazine cover treatment.
Utah Democrats — who’ve had little-to-no success in statewide races over the past 40 years — badly want Lee out, and they see the independent McMullin as the only viable option. So, at a raucous state convention in April, a majority of delegates voted to hold their noses and formally back McMullin instead of a veteran Democrat.
And while Utah is also deeply conservative, it has some unorthodox tendencies. Most Utahns, McMullin included, are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a group that has shown an unusual aversion to Trump (hence McMullin’s success in 2016). As an ex-Republican, McMullin offers himself as a principled alternative to Lee, whom he views as a far-right extremist tied to a former president who tried to overthrow the government.
“The only way to replace [Lee] is to build a coalition,” McMullin says. “We’re still bringing people together.”
How’s that going?
The survey of 801 registered Utah voters shows 41% would vote for Lee and 36% for McMullin if the general election were held today. Another 14% would choose another candidate (two third-party candidates are on the ballot) and 8% don’t know who they would vote for.
If these numbers hold, they mean that McMullin would improve on Misty Snow scoring only 27%, and Sam Granato getting around 33%, by only 3%.
And considering that Misty Snow wasn’t a serious candidate, that’s not saying much. But the media is saying much.
So far, his backers run the gamut. They include national figures from both parties, like former DNC Chair Howard Dean and former RNC Chair Michael Steele. More important, he’s pocketed prominent local endorsements, including Jenny Wilson, the mayor of Salt Lake County and the state’s highest-ranking Democrat. Ben McAdams, a former Democratic congressman, who thought about running against Lee but saw it as an unwinnable race for his party, is serving as McMullin’s liaison to Utah Democrats.
And after all that, he’s only up 3% over Granato.