RIVERTON, Utah -- It was a pep rally for the ages as a crowd of Utahns came out to Riverton Park Saturday to show Sen. Mike Lee they support what he’s doing in Washington.
Susan Ridgeway was one person who attended the rally in support of Lee.
“I’m so grateful that he is where he is,” she said. “He is the man for this time, and I support him.”
Amelia Powers organized the event with two friends on Facebook after reading an article that said Lee came home to a cold shoulder from Utahns angry with his role in the government shutdown.
“Contrary to what we read in the media, Utah is here and supports our senator, and we appreciate his efforts and we like Mike,” Powers said.
The few opponents in the crowd weren't warmly received, but they voiced their frustrations with the senator. Michael Pacardi was one of those who was there to express discontent.
“That’s what I’m waiting for, someone to tell me why this is a victory because the country lost,” he said. “We are further in debt. They shut down the government, and people were not paid, American citizens were not paid.”
Lee said the shutdown wasn’t something he sought out.
“They have every right to be angry about the shutdown,” Lee said. “The shutdown never should have happened. The shutdown is not something I ever wanted. It’s something I deliberately planned around.”
Still, even some of his Republican colleagues blame Lee for the shutdown. But Congressional candidate Mia Love came out Saturday, making it clear she's on Lee's side.
“There is a conflict between the Washington D.C. establishment and the American people, and we will stand with the people,” Lee said.
Utah Senator Jim Dabakis, Utah Democratic Party chairman, said Lee is wrong and that the American people opposed his actions. He released this statement in response to the rally.
“Mike Lee doesn’t speak for Utah. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, progressives and genuine conservatives join hands in being appalled by the freshman senator's grenade-throwing governing tactics. With plummeting approval ratings, it is clear that Utahns resoundingly hated the shutdown, and that Lee has made himself a national laughingstock. Even this hastily cobbled together ‘support rally,’ filled with the loudest of the vocal Tea Party minority, can’t redeem him, or undo the damage that has been done. Mike Lee represents himself, and a collection of rigid Tea Party ideologues like rally attendee Mia Love. Together, they make up a dangerous clan of extremists who are committed to making their points at all costs, and don’t care who gets hurt in the process.”
“Once again, we applaud the two adults in Utah’s congressional delegation, Congressman Jim Matheson and Senator Orrin Hatch, who came together to support the final CR that re-opened the government. Bravo Hatch and Matheson! Shame on Lee, Bishop, Chaffetz, and Stewart.”