‘People are ready for something different’: Why independent Evan McMullin thinks he can win a Senate seat in Utah

Evan McMullin is running as an unaffiliated candidate in the 2022 Senate race. McMullin ran as an independent candidate in the 2016 presidential election. (AP News)

Evan McMullin, the unaffiliated candidate running for Senate against incumbent Mike Lee, is pledging to protect democracy in America by standing up to political extremism.

McMullin is a native Utahn, former Republican and a BYU graduate. He served as an undercover operative in the CIA and a national security advisor in Congress, and ran for president in 2016. This year, he’s running for Senate without any party affiliation, though he has been backed by the Utah Democratic Party and the United Utah Party. McMullin claims his loyalty is to America and its founding ideals of self-government and liberty and justice for all, instead of a particular political party.

McMullin said he’s been building a coalition of Utah republicans, democrats and independents who are united under the banner of replacing Mike Lee and fixing the divisive politics McMullin claims are jeopardizing the country’s future.

“We’re experiencing various challenges in our state and country, whether it’s inflation or the high cost of health care or lack of water,” he said. “I think people are ready for something different. The politics of extremism and division just, you know, can’t help us overcome those challenges.”

“Government by the people is at risk because of extremist ideals on both sides of politics,” McMullin said. “In order for our system of self-government to work, in order for our democracy to work, we have to work together.”

“The extremes of the political spectrum don’t represent most Americans,” McMullin said. “But they’re the ones with the most decision-making power.”

According to a 2018 report from researchers at Stanford University and the University of California Santa Barbara, only 20% of Americans surveyed said they feel their elected representatives listen to the majority of their constituents.

As an independent candidate, McMullin said he would stand between both parties and give the middle ground more power in the legislature.

“I’m running as an independent so that I can represent Utahns and not party bosses, not special interest groups,” he said. “That’s the opportunity for Utah, is to have far more of a voice in the Senate than it currently has right now.”

McMullin’s campaign focuses on five priorities for renewal: strengthening democracy, lowering healthcare costs, reducing government spending and inflation, protecting clean air and water and keeping America safe.

“They all depend on a functioning system of self-government,” the senatorial candidate said of his five priorities.

That system of self-government is threatened, according to McMullin, by his opponent in the Senate race. McMullin has been vocal on Twitter and other platforms about Lee’s alleged involvement in former president Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

“I believe that was one of the most egregious betrayals of our Constitution in our nation’s history,” McMullin said.

McMullin criticized Lee for voting based on party loyalty, claiming Lee has been the “least productive senator in the chamber.”

Since his election to the Senate in 2011, Lee has sponsored six bills that have become laws. Of the bills Lee has co-sponsored, 17 have passed.

“He sits on his hands until it’s time to vote no and offers no constructive alternative to any piece of legislation that’s offered in the Senate,” McMullin said of Lee. “We need two senators who are engaging constructively on our behalf.”

“A commitment to freedom and self-government is Utah’s legacy. We’ve struggled a lot for our freedoms,” he said. “And we need representation and representatives in Washington who will carry that legacy forward and who will remain committed to our Constitution and committed to our democracy and our most basic rights.”

He called upon young voters to make their voices heard in November, since their votes could have a significant affect on the election’s outcome.

“One thing I hear from young voters a lot is ‘I don’t vote because my vote doesn’t matter’. But in this race, it does matter,” McMullin said. “Young voters perhaps will decide the outcome of this race.”

According to McMullin, the Utah Senate race is all about protecting the fundamentals of American government, and the results will have international consequences.

“We have to stand up in this cycle and in the next cycle to ensure that we still have a democracy,” McMullin said. “I believe the cause of freedom, internationally or globally, depends on whether America remains a free nation. And we are not a free nation without a democratic republic.”

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