SALT LAKE CITY – U.S. Senator Mike Lee is announcing the initial members of his National Reelection Campaign Committee for 2016, and the names include a former Utah Governor who less than a month ago was being recruited to run against Lee.
Sen. Lee said former Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. and Zions Bank CEO Scott Anderson will serve as co-chairs, and this announcement comes less than a month after Huntsman Jr. was reportedly being recruited by business and GOP leaders to run against Lee.
Lee won his seat in the Senate in 2010 from long-time incumbent Bob Bennett, and Lee has been popular with the tea party movement both in that election and in subsequent years. Last month, CNN’s John King reported that business leaders and GOP establishment figures were looking for someone to run against Lee, and they were recruiting Huntsman Jr. as a potentially more moderate candidate.
Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinkley Institute of Politics in Utah, said a race between Huntsman Jr. and Lee would have been one to watch.
“I think it would be the single most intriguing and most covered race in the country,” Jowers said February 16. “It really does bring out a lot of the different tensions in the Republican party both locally and nationally.”
In the press release issued by Lee, Huntsman stated he had great admiration for the Senator.
“I have known, worked with, and admired Mike Lee for many years,” Jon Huntsman, Jr. stated. “He is at the forefront of a new generation of leaders in Washington and I am excited to assist him as Co-Chair of his national reelection committee. Senator Lee is working to broaden, reform and reinvigorate the Republican Party. He understands the importance of rebuilding the trust of the American people in their government which is critical to our future success.”
In addition to Huntsman Jr. and Anderson, the announcement from Lee included the names of several committee members.
The initial committee members include:
Ambassador John Price
Former Governor Norman Bangerter
Former Congressman Jim Hansen
Sen. Lee said more members will be added to the committee once he formally announces his candidacy for reelection and kicks off his 2016 campaign.
“I am thankful to these good friends for stepping up and engaging on my behalf as part of my reelection committee,” Sen. Lee said. “There is immense talent in this committee and I look forward to gaining from their insight and wisdom in the days ahead.”
“It is an honor to co-chair Senator Lee’s national reelection committee with former Governor Huntsman,” stated Scott Anderson, National Campaign Committee Co-Chair. “Mike Lee’s impact and influence in the U.S. Senate continues to grow as he collaborates on an agenda focused on meaningful reform and empowering good people to strengthen their communities.”
Campaign spokesman Boyd Matheson said: “This committee is comprised of a diverse group of individuals that is indicative of Senator Lee’s approach governing and his vision for leading a positive agenda. The Senator is committed to raising Utah’s voice in Congress by uniting people from across the political spectrum around common sense solutions.”