Sen. Mike Lee Takes Heat At Home Over Shutdown

The campaign to defund the Affordable Care Act may have endeared him to the tea party, but Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) is facing an increasingly disgruntled constituency at home for his leading role in the quixotic effort that led to the government shutdown and brought the United States close to default.

Look no further than a pair of articles published Wednesday in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, both of which focus on the growing backlash against Lee in Utah. 

The Post quoted A. Scott Anderson, the president of a prominent Utah bank who raised money for Lee’s successful 2010 campaign.

“If things are to happen, you can’t just stick to your principles. You have to make things work. . . . You’ve got to be practical,” Anderson said, as quoted by the Post.

And then there was Utah native Spencer Zwick, the finance chairman for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, branding Lee a “show horse” and vowing to campaign against the senator.

“Business leaders that I talk to, many of whom supported him, would never support his reelection and in fact will work against him, myself included,” Zwick told the Post.

The Journal, meanwhile, caught up with Quin Monson, a pollster for Brigham Young University who said that Lee may have set himself for a primary.

“Lee looks vulnerable to a challenge from within his party, but the real danger could be a challenge in a general election from the right kind of moderate Democrat,” Monson told the Journal.

Monson’s online poll earlier this month showed Lee’s favorability tumbling to 40 percent, while 51 percent of Utahns said they have an unfavorable opinion of him. That’s consistent with a recent trend for the entire Republican Party, which has seen historically bad polling numbers in the wake of the budget and debt crises.

Moreover, polls across the board showed the public largely blaming the GOP for the first government shutdown since 1996, brought about by the defunding campaign that was led by Lee and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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