A McMullin candidacy challenges the rigid two-party standard, which pipeline too plenty of Utahns unrepresented.

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Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin speaks at a rally in Draper, Friday, Oct 21, 2016 (Alex Gallivan/Special to the Tribune)

We’re around to evil a an extremely interesting test of Utah’s political standing quo.

Evan McMullin, that won much more than 21% of the Utahns’ votes for president in 2016, will challenge Sen. Mike Lee as an elevation candidate because that Utah’s Senate seat following year.

An announcement of his candidacy is likely to come quickly — perhaps very soon — a source in the McMullin camp called me end the weekend.

If McMullin is elected — and it’s a huge “if” — it can pose the most definitive rebuke to date to Donald Trump’s Republican Party and serve notice to leaders of both parties that there is a wide swath that America voter who treatment less about cultish partisan allegiances and an ext about results.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Robert Gehrke.

The viability the a McMullin candidacy hinges on a few basic assumptions.

1. You can’t beat Lee for the Republican nomination.

In my years spanning politics, I’ve involved know Lee’s two leading Republican challengers, Becky Edwards and also Ally Isom. Both room smart and also qualified. And, I’m yes, really sorry come say this, but neither can overcome the Trump wing of the Utah Republican Party to victory the nomination.

That’s particularly true as long as both space in the field dividing the Not-Mike-Lee vote. Also if among them dropped the end of the race, the is very, an extremely likely that the candidate staying will shed to Lee.

2. Lee’s support is soft external the main point of his own party.

A vote in august by oh Predictive Insights discovered that much less than fifty percent of Utahns statewide assistance the work-related Lee is law in Washington. That includes two-thirds of Republicans.

But over there are likewise one the end of five Republicans that don’t ago Lee, too as virtually seven out of 10 Democrats, and a plurality that independents.

If a candidate might cobble together those dissident groups, over there just might be a course to victory.

That means convincing Democrats their candidate can’t success — which must be the easiest part of the job, considering that due to the fact that 1994 Republicans have actually beaten democrats in U.S. Senate gyeongju in the state by about two-to-one.

It method bringing those disgruntled anti-Lee republicans on board, which can be less complicated after a GOP primary.

And it means convincing independent voters that they don’t have to vote for a partisan and that McMullin much better represents the views and values of live independence voters.

It’s not easily done, but if any type of force have the right to coalesce those different groups, it might be disdain because that Mike Lee and the distaste because that the partisan debacle in Washington.

Utahns fancy themselves together rugged individualists, reduced from an independent cloth. The why 3 in 10 registered voter in the state are not republicans or democracy — castle unaffiliated.

And there aren’t a lot of world who epitomize the present “team-first, ethics later” mentality in Washington more than Lee.

This is a man who, in 2016, demanded trump quit the presidential race since of the candidate’s shameful therapy of ladies in the notorious access Hollywood tape. At the Republican convention i stood much less than a couple of feet away together Lee threw a veritable hissy-fit do the efforts futilely to store the party indigenous making a ethical mistake.

Once Trump was in office, Lee spent four years supplicating himself before the president, defending the indefensible, and fundraising through the right-wing conspiracist Rep. Lauren Boebert and Rep. Matt Gaetz, who remains under examination for allegedly paying a minor for sex.

Nice company.

On peak of that, Lee has cast a series of votes that, in my mind, do not stand for Utah values. The many glaring instances are his vote against reauthorizing the Violence against Women Act and also his steadfast opposition to extending benefits to firefighters and also police policemans stricken will illness after responding to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Last year, in the midst of the project for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, I argued that Jon Huntsman could shake increase Utah politics and malfunction the hard Republican-Democrat division if he ran as an independent.

He didn’t perform it, however if that had, ns think he would be governor today.

The allude is that all Utahns worthy to be stood for — not just the ultraconservative decimal who pick the Republican nominee.

I believe that many Utah voters space somewhere in the middle ground of our present polarized political structure. And they have to be, because political decision deserve part nuance. It’s not all correct or no, black or white.

But our present structure does not accurately reflect the see of many Utahns — Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans.

Like the or not, McMullin’s candidacy has actually an possibility to difficulty that simplistic dichotomy. And, at the really least, it offers voters an alternative to select someone that would be a heck of a lot far better than Mike Lee.

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