This Utah GOP lawmaker’s 'full MAGA' pivot isn't going according to plan: report

This Utah GOP lawmaker’s 'full MAGA' pivot isn't going according to plan: report
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Gage Skidmore

In deep-red states across the country, many Republican candidates and lawmakers are jumping through hoops to gain the support of former President Donald Trump's base. While this approach works fairly well in red states, things are reportedly a bit different in Utah.

According to Politico, Sen. Mike Lee's (R-Utah) shift toward Trump appears to be backfiring as his constituents aren't exactly pleased with his political posturing. Shortly after Trump was elected, Lee took "a full MAGA turn" and subsequently became "one of Trump’s staunchest allies in the Senate." In other states, such a radical shift might bode well for re-election, but things are a bit different in the Beehive State.

In Utah, many Republican voters still do not embrace Trump as much as voters in other red states, and Lee's gravitation toward the forme president could lead to long-term complications as he works to be re-elected for a third term.

Republican leaders and pundits in the state have offered their take on Lee's political shift and the reaction it's receiving from Utah voters. Carson Jorgensen, chair of Utah's Republican Party, weighed in on Utah's "singular" political landscape.

“Utah has a very different political culture here. Navigating that can be difficult,” Jorgensen said. “The culture is very much influenced by their friends and neighbors and faith, and we are very tight-knit communities.”

Although Lee has occasionally pushed back against Trump, Jorgensen noted that he has still managed to veer off into TrumpWorld. He added, “Trump’s criticized Mike, and Mike’s criticized Trump. But at the end of the day, Mike was one of his staunchest allies.”

However, Trump isn't the only issue for Lee. In addition to voters' reservations about Trump, there's the issue of "so-called obstructionism."

Politico reported: "Lee’s relationship with Trump isn’t the sole issue in the primary. Many Utahns remain averse to the MAGA wing of the Republican Party in general. Lee’s challengers have also targeted his so-called obstructionism. Those in Lee’s inner circle praise his willingness to be a human barricade against 'bad legislation,' but his opponents frame it as an unwillingness to govern."

While Lee may believe his approach is working effectively, former state legislator Becky Edwards sounded off as she highlighted what Republican voters really want. "Utahns want a more productive, proactive and inclusive type of Republican, and a more productive, proactive, inclusive type of conservative,” said Edwards.

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