(The Center Square) – The debate between Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee and Independent challenger Evan McMullin started friendly as the two agreed excessive federal spending is driving inflation.
The tone did not last as the two sparred over who should take the blame for inflation, and Lee’s alleged involvement in trying to over turn the 2020 presidential election.
Lee said Congress has spent recklessly for a long time but Democrats have taken it to a different level.
“We thought it was too much cowbell before,” Lee said. “They’ve given it 10 times the cowbell. What we need right now is a Republican-controlled Senate.”
McMullin blamed both parties, saying the debt also increased under the Trump administration.
“The job of a senator, especially representing our state, has to be to stand up to leaders of both parties – to Joe Biden and to Donald Trump,” McMullin said. “That’s what’s required Sen. Lee because both parties are spending recklessly.
Lee denied allegations made by McMullin he tried to find fake electors to overturn the 2020 election, saying there was not “even a scintilla of evidence suggesting that.”
Lee said President Joe Biden fairly won the electoral college votes and he did not try to interfere with the outcome.
“You sir, owe me an apology,” Lee said.
Evan McMullin gets booed after calling @SenMikeLee a traitor to the Constitution.
LEE: "You know that's not true. You sir, owe me an apology." pic.twitter.com/3v2c7TUEJi
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) October 18, 2022
Lee accused McMullin of siding with Democrats. McMullin said that’s not what worries Lee.
“You’re worried about the fact that I am an independent and that I’m building a cross partisan coalition of Republicans, Democrats and independents and members of third parties to replace you and to stand up to your broken politics and those of the party bosses and special interests that line your pockets,” McMullin said. “‘That’s what I’m doing and I know it frightens you because if you can keep us divided, then that’s how you hold on to power.”
Recent polls show a tight race in an election that also includes Tommy Williams of the Independent Party of Utah, Libertarian James Arthur Hansen and independent write-in candidates Abe Korb and Michael Sequin.
McMullin’s campaign released an Oct. 12 poll from Put Utah First PAC that shows McMullin lead of 4 percentage points over Lee.
An earlier poll, taken Sept. 3-21 by the Deseret News and Hinckley Institute of Politics, shows 37% of Utah voters would cast their ballots for Lee, while 34% said they would vote for McMullin. Sixteen percent were undecided.