SALT LAKE CITY — Former state lawmaker Becky Edwards launched her campaign to challenge Sen. Mike Lee for the U.S. Senate seat next year.
"I don’t take the prospect of running against a fellow Republican lightly. But I don’t take the challenges facing Utah families lightly either," Edwards said in an interview with FOX 13 ahead of her campaign announcement. "Utahns want to see a leader who is less focused on picking partisan fights and more committed to actually offering solutions to the challenges they’re facing as families and businesses."
Edwards is a therapist who served in the Utah State Legislature representing a part of Davis County from 2008 until she retired in 2018. In the legislature, Edwards had a reputation as a moderate Republican who would often work in a bipartisan fashion. She said she would take that same approach to the U.S. Senate.
"I’m not afraid of different opinions. I welcome them," she said.
Her campaign kickoff on Capitol Hill attracted a couple hundred supporters. She said she planned to focus on jobs and wages, health care, educational opportunities and climate change.
Edwards is among the first candidates to get into the race, but she may not be the last. A number of other Republicans are floating the idea of a challenge to Sen. Lee, dissatisfied over his vocal support of President Trump. The liberal-leaning policy group Alliance for a Better Utah has even launched a campaign called "Humans Against Mike Lee."
"It’s a funny title but really it’s an educational effort to help people realize Mike Lee is really extreme and doesn’t reflect our values," said Lauren Simpson, Alliance for a Better Utah's policy director.
The group is selling stickers, lawn signs and T-shirts that declare "Humans Against Mike Lee." But Simpson said they are not endorsing any particular candidate against him.
"We want Utah to recognize we can do better," she said.
But Sen. Lee is expected to be a formidable opponent for anyone who challenges him. At the Utah Republican Party state convention, he received loud cheers from GOP delegates as he took the stage. In contrast, Sen. Mitt Romney was booed by those same delegates over his votes to impeach President Trump.
Sen. Lee's campaign did not respond to FOX 13's messages seeking comment. Federal Election Commission disclosures show he has raised nearly $1 million so far in his re-election bid.
Edwards told FOX 13 she will seek to secure the party's nomination at the 2022 state convention, but will also gather signatures to secure a spot on the primary ballot, as the law allows.
"I think we’re going to see a field of individuals and I think that speaks to the level of dissatisfaction and concern of Utahns in general," she said. "I feel i’m uniquely qualified and position to win this primary and I’ll let the pundits comment on the remainder of the field."