Mike Lee in the News
Mike Lee is now the odds-on favorite to become the next senator from Utah, one of the first true Tea Party senators in the country
Republican voters in Utah picked lawyer Mike Lee as the party’s nominee to replace U.S. Senator Bob Bennett, according to the Associated Press.
Lee, 39, defeated businessman Tim Bridgewater, 49, and will likely become state’s next senator. Heavily Republican Utah hasn’t elected a Democrat to the chamber in 40 years.
After last night’s primary elections, a pipedream came to me: A new tea-party center is forming in the Republican Senate caucus. ... Here’s how it’s going to work: Rand Paul will grab the Senate seat in Kentucky. Marco Rubio will take Florida. Mike Lee will win in Utah. Pat Toomey will finally prevail in Pennsylvania. And Carly Fiorina will knock off Barbara Boxer in California. ... It looks to me like the GOP can in fact capture the Senate, by the way. But even if they don’t, this new group will revolutionize politics.
One of the two Utah candidates, Mike Lee, a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito, has been in Washington espousing such strange aspirations as repeal of Obamacare and No Child Left Behind. He is extremely eager for the Supreme Court to stop construing the Constitution's commerce clause as a license for Congress to do whatever it wants as long as it asserts that what it wants involves regulating interstate commerce. Lee and Rand Paul will get along.
During a back-and-forth about political realism, Lee says, “Don’t confuse not currently feasible for not possible under any circumstances.” His causes aren’t “quixotic,” he says, just “hard.”
Electing 60 Mike Lees to the Senate is not a plausible path forward for conservatives, to state the obvious. One Mike Lee would be a healthy addition to the Senate’s diversity: Even if his vote totals end up looking only a little more conservative than Bennett’s, his arguments will sound very different. And if any state has this kind of representation in the Congress, it is fitting that it be Utah.
A backbencher known for his eagerness to challenge the Republican establishment, DeMint is becoming one of the most influential voices of the conservative rebellion that's shaking up GOP primaries. Tapping an anti-incumbent fervor, the South Carolina lawmaker is a coveted — and feared — endorsement, funneling money and grass-roots energy to long-shot candidates who threaten Washington's GOP favorites.
After Bennett's loss, DeMint immediately endorsed Mike Lee, one of the two Republicans in a runoff.
Howrey partner Michael Lee was one of the two candidates who toppled three-term veteran Republican Sen. Bob Bennett in Utah on Saturday
Lee's father is the late Reagan-era U.S. solicitor general Rex Lee, a renowned figure among Supreme Court advocates, and founder of Sidley Austin's Supreme Court practice. Mike Lee clerked for Justice Samuel Alito Jr. when Alito was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, and when Alito went to the Supreme Court, he brought Lee in to help him again as a clerk.
Bill Lee has a wife and seven children, a leadership position in his church and a one-man heating-and-air-conditioning business he struggles to keep afloat. But for the last few months Lee has been working full time, unpaid, on something akin to a crusade:
His candidate is Mike Lee, an attorney and of no relation, whose signs ride along in Bill Lee's truck for chances like one this week.
The campaign has been a sacrifice, but one Lee makes because, he believes, it is important for his family. "I worry about my kids enjoying the same America I enjoyed," he says. "It's worth staying up late, giving up things like coaching baseball, so they can have the same opportunities I did."
Lee says his mission would be to roll back the federal government's expansive power that it has amassed with complete disregard for the bounds set by the Constitution.
If he is elected, Lee said, his first order of business would be adding a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, an effort that has failed countless times over the decades. This time will be different, he says, because the current spending can't continue.
Balancing the budget, Lee says, would mean dismantling vast segments of the federal bureaucracy, returning the power for programs like Medicare and Medicaid to the states.
But Tea Party activists have targeted [Senator Bob Bennett] and several candidates are claiming the Tea Party label, including Lee, who is the surprising front-runner.
The first sentence of Lee’s biography on his website states, “Mike acquired his love for the Constitution at an early age while discussing everything from the Due Process Clause to the Second Amendment around the dinner table.”
Unless Sen. Bob Bennett's political fortunes change dramatically in the next two weeks, he could become Utah's first incumbent U.S. senator to lose his party's nomination in seven decades.
A new Salt Lake Tribune poll of Republican delegates shows Bennett running in third, behind GOP challengers Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater.
Lee logged 37 percent support in the survey, while Bridgewater came in at 20 percent, and Bennett lagged at 16 percent.
The job of FreedomWorks activists will be to convince the other delegates that Lee can, in the words of FreedomWorks President Matt Keebe, "be with us 100 percent, replacing someone who was with us 60 percent."
"We've watched Lee in the debates," said Max Pappas, managing director of the FreedomWorks PAC. "He brings everything back to the question of where the Senate gets the authority to use this power or that power."
And [Utah] might not give Bob Bennett a third term. The grandson of a president of the Mormon church and son of a four-term senator, Bennett is conservative enough to have earned an A grade from the National Rifle Association, a 98 percent rating from the Chamber of Commerce, and 84 percent from the American Conservative Union (ACU). He is, however, 76, an incumbent, and running third. The leading candidate is attorney Mike Lee, 38, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito when Alito was on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Lee's theme is Washington's indifference to constitutional limits.
"I'd start by eliminating the U.S. Department of Education at a cost of $50 billion and then move on to Housing and Urban Development," said Mike Lee, who is regarded as Bennett's leading opponent.
Lee said afterward that there is no constitutional basis for Congress to involve itself in housing. "There are few things more local than housing. It's a very local enterprise," Lee said.
When more than 1,000 delegates were polled on their choices in the Senate race, only 15 percent chose Bennett. When asked for a second choice, only 5 percent picked Bennett. In the first test, he's barely in the top three, which raises the possibility of the three-term senator getting knocked out of the convention in the first round of voting. The frontrunner is Mike Lee, a first-time candidate who gets 35 percent of first-choice votes and 22 percent of second-choice votes.
"Mike Lee is the frontunner," said Chuck Warren, a Utah political consultant whose Silver Bullet firm conducted the poll. "He's the only one I see who can get to 60 percent at the convention."
It was the sixth straw-poll win for Lee, who has emerged as the frontrunner among Bennett’s seven primary rivals.
“Senator Bennett’s a good man,” says the 38-year-old attorney, but Utahns are “ready for a new generation of leaders.” Lee, who previously served as general counsel to former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and clerked for Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito, describes his agenda as a restoration of constitutional principles. He is sharply critical not just of President Obama, but also of President Bush. Lee disparagingly refers to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the Medicare Modernization Act (which introduced a new prescription-drug entitlement, known as Medicare Part D), and the No Child Left Behind Act as “the Bush-era trifecta.” He zings Bennett for favoring the first two, while crediting him for opposing the last one. “No Child Left Behind openly flouted the idea of state sovereignty,” Lee complains, and TARP “was arguably the largest redistribution of wealth, up to that point, ever encapsulated in one piece of legislation.”
Utah attorney Mike Lee (R) raised $115,000 and self-funded $20,000 in the first quarter for his primary campaign against Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), his campaign told The Hill on Wednesday.
Lee, who got in the race at the start of the first quarter and is seen by insiders as an attractive alternative to Bennett, had $85,000 in the bank at the end of March.
According to reliable Republican sources, Bennett now trails GOP challenger Mike Lee by a significant amount among GOP delegates.
According to our sources, Mike Lee's campaign has conducted two large surveys in the last month.
Each polled between a quarter and a third of the delegates to next month's Republican state convention.
Reportedly, Mike Lee is first with 37 percent of the delegate vote.
Attorney Mike Lee, thought to be one of Bennett's most credible challengers, called for a one-year moratorium on earmarks. He also subtly criticized the senator, saying the recently passed health care bill is unconstitutional because it includes a mandate to buy insurance.
Bennett introduced a bill during the health care debate that also would've required people to buy insurance.
"This is wrong," Lee said. "They don't have the power to do that. I will fight every single day I serve you as your U.S. senator to get this monstrosity repealed."
A poll afterward showed Mike Lee getting nearly 50 percent of the 195 votes cast. He was followed by about 16 percent each for Cherilyn Eagar and Tim Bridgewater.
Lee is considered one of Bennett's greatest threats, and Bennett wasted no time taking a subtle dig at him, the AP reported. In introductory remarks, Bennett touted his "real world" business experience and said there are too many lawyers in Washington.
While June 22 is the date of the primary, the key date is more likely May 8, when the party holds its state nominating convention. If early caucus results are any kind of signal, Bennett is at risk of falling short of the nomination, most likely to Mike Lee, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
But now, 18 years later, some voters see Bennett as the establishment and his GOP opponent Mike Lee as the fresh face.
Lee told ABC 4,
"This seat isn't something that belongs to anyone, it belongs to the people and the people, I believe, are ready for a change."
Lee, the son of former BYU President, Rex Lee, says he did well at Tuesday's caucuses.
And he did not blink when ABC 4 asked him if he's emerging as Bennett's main challenger.
ABC 4 (Vanocur ): “Would you think I was crazy if I called you a front-runner?
Lee: “No, I wouldn't but I would think I was crazy if I started acting like a front-runner."
Mike Lee, 38, is among those challenging Mr. Bennett. As Mr. Lee met with voters on a recent day in Cedar Hills, the largest applause came when he said Republicans must look inward to resolve the problems entrenched in Washington.
“Congress has created a monster through its seniority system,” said Mr. Lee, a former Supreme Court clerk for Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. “It’s a bring-home-the-bacon problem. It’s part of the ‘I’ve got seniority so you need to re-elect me’ problem. The longer they’re in, the more they have an opportunity to say, ‘You can’t replace me.’ ”
While all of Sen. Bob Bennett's GOP opponents criticize his use of earmarks, one is attacking Bennett for skipping a Senate vote this week on whether to ban all earmarks for this year and next.
"We need an open, honest debate about earmarks, and missing a vote on something that critical is inexcusable," Mike Lee said.
[Bennett] said if Congress does not direct where money should be spent through earmarks, it leaves all such decisions to the Obama administration.
Lee, however, said, "Earmarks are an unfortunate footprint from where the Republican Party took the wrong path," and added "true small-government conservatives" support putting on hold the "system that lends itself to abuse."
At a packed meeting last night, Mike Lee walked away with a second straw poll win at the Utah Young Republicans event, topping Sen. Bob Bennett 71-7 for the incumbent's seat. Bridgewater pulled 45 votes and Cherilyn Eagar 15. Jim Bennett spoke for his dad, who was stuck in D.C., but apparently didn't win over enough young elephants.
Sens. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who attend GOP leadership meetings and are considered de facto members, also sit on the Appropriations panel.
“The leadership in particular likes to earmark,” said Mike Lee, a conservative challenging Bennett in the Utah Republican primary. “Sen. McConnell and Sen. Bennett have a completely different philosophy on earmarks than I do. They would say they’re showing leadership, but it’s in a different direction than I would support.”
GOP U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett is continuing to attract Republican challengers.
On Monday, Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater filed to seek the Republican nomination.
"I'm running for the U.S. Senate because I firmly believe that the federal government is too big, and it costs too much money," said Lee, an Alpine attorney. "I don't think it was ever intended to be that way. In fact, I know that it wasn't."
In a straw poll held at the end of the event, Lee narrowly edged out Bennett, with 102 votes to 97. Bridgewater had 44 votes, while Cook finished with six and Eagar five.
Many Tea Party activists say Republicans in Washington lost sight of their principles during the Bush years and outsider candidates running in GOP primaries are trying to take advantage of this.
"We've got this large debt, about $13 trillion; a lot of it, more of that debt than I would like to admit as a Republican, was acquired when Republicans controlled Congress and much of it was acquired when Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress," said Mike Lee, a Republican candidate challenging Sen. Robert Bennett (R) in Utah.
Lee made his comments at a press conference at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last month and many Tea Party voters share his view.
Bennett's first test will come on May 8, when delegates to Utah's state GOP convention will vote on a Senate nominee. If he fails to get 60 percent, he’ll be pushed into a June 22 primary. Bennett faces three potentially credible right-wing challengers, but the “comer” seems to be Mike Lee, a former law clerk to Justice Samuel Alito, who has been endorsed by Dick Armey’s powerful FreedomWorks organization.
Attorney Mike Lee, who is challenging U.S. Sen Bob Bennett for the Republican nomination, said a compelling argument can be made, based on the Constitution, that the lands are subject to eminent domain.
"It's not a one in a million," Lee said of the odds of victory. "It's not one in a thousand. It's significantly better than that. ... It's an argument that needs to be made. It's an argument that strikes at the heart of the sovereignty of this state."
Despite legal analysis by state attorneys that says the measure would not withstand court scrutiny, attorney Mike Lee said he believes it is a fight worth fighting.
"I cannot rule out the possibility of victory in this case nor can I assure it," he told members of a natural resources committee Tuesday. "I believe we have a good faith basis for an argument here, an argument the likes of which has yet to be addressed as far as I am able to discern. It is argument that strikes at the heart of the sovereignty of the state."
Insurgents such as former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, former Representative J.D. Hayworth of Arizona and Utah lawyer Mike Lee -- all running against well-established Republicans in party primaries -- have found receptive audiences among those attending the annual gathering sponsored by the American Conservative Union in Washington.
“It’s very sad to me that the Republicans had the majority and yet look at what happened to the debt,” Lee said. “That’s why people need to be held accountable.”
Lee, son of Rex Lee, who was solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan, is an attorney specializing in constitutional law. In accepting the endorsement, Lee said that with the dramatic expansion in spending and size, the federal government is engaged in a “widespread, systematic, reckless, blatant” failure to follow the Constitution.
The GOP faces a number of divisive primaries, but Utah is being watched especially closely because of the jeopardy facing an incumbent, and because of an unusual nomination system that may favor a challenger like Lee.
The effort to oust Republican Sen. Bob Bennett (UT) in 2010 is gelling, a bit: the Dick Armey-led activist group FreedomWorks endorsed conservative candidate Mike Lee today at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC.
This comes after the Club for Growth announced Jan.8 that it would oppose Bennett, while declining to endorse any of his potential challengers specifically.
Lee is new to politics: he's a lawyer who clerked for federal judges in DC, served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Utah, and then served as Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's (R) general counsel in 2005 and 2006.
A national conservative group headed by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey is endorsing Mike Lee in Utah's U.S. Senate race.
FreedomWorks PAC, which says it fights for lower taxes, less government and more freedom, said in a statement Thursday that it is supporting Lee because incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, "abandoned fiscal conservatism long ago." The group attacked Bennett's support of the bailout of financial firms and his proposals for health care reform.
Armey said Lee's candidacy "represents another opportunity for the true-blue conservative, limited-government advocates to elevate a serious reformer rooted in free-market policy over an establishment politician."
Armey added, "Lee's passion for constitutionally limited government and market-based policy reform is clear. I believe he is someone who can emerge as a leader for fiscal discipline on the national stage."
"I believe our federal government is too big and too expensive and plays far too much of a role in our lives," Lee told reporters at CPAC.
Lee said the most of the Senate Republican Conference has lost sight of the importance of smaller government.
"We've got this large debt, about $13 trillion; a lot of it, more of that debt than I would like to admit as a Republican, was acquired when Republicans controlled Congress and much of it was acquired when Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress."
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey endorsed Senate GOP candidate Mike Lee on Thursday, slamming incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, as simply wrong on conservative issues.
Armey, who announced he is backing Lee at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, said the former general counsel to then-Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has the depth of understanding and is spot on with key issues that Armey's Freedomworks political action committee wants to see in Congress.
FreedomWorks PAC, the political arm of Dick Armey's activist operation, is expected to endorse lawyer Mike Lee in his long-shot GOP primary challenge to Utah Sen. Bob Bennett.
Winning support from FreedomWorks will boost Lee's effort to brand himself as a tea party candidate, because Armey's organization is looked to as an important organizing hub by tea party activists across the country.
The House Health and Human Services Committee approved the measure on a 5-1 vote, sending it to the full House.
Mike Lee, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, said the legislation empowers the states to decide who to enact health reform, rather than letting the federal government "commandeer" the Legislature's authority.
"The state is a sovereign. It's not the lapdog of the federal government," Lee said, an attorney, who said he believes that such a law would withstand legal challenge.
Lee committed himself to a strict adherence of the Constitution, saying he would oppose any measure that strays from that text. He criticized the stimulus as the wrong approach to economic recovery and promised to push a balanced-budget amendment.
"It is all too easy for Congress to expand government," Lee said, "when they don't have to pay for it until later."
Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Patrick Hughes of Illinois, and Mike Lee of Utah are the first U.S. Senate candidates to take the Repeal It! pledge for candidates, the Club for Growth announced today.
“Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Pat Hughes have made a pact today with the people of their states to fight for health care and economic freedom, even if Congress passes ObamaCare this year,” Club President Chris Chocola said today. “These candidates are running as champions of economic liberty, limited government, and real reform. Their pledges today give voters in their states reason to believe them.”
Attorney Mike Lee, new competitor for the United States Senate, thinks the United States government is too big, costs way too much money and is too intrusive.
Hoping to replace 76-year-old Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Lee, who served as Governor Jon Huntsman’s general counsel from 2005 to 2006, said he has plans to restore the federal government to its initial principles based on the Constitution.
Mike Lee is part stand-up comic, part hard-nosed trial lawyer, part fiery preacher.
Lee, the 38-year-old from Alpine who this week officially took on the task of knocking off U.S. Senate titan Bob Bennett, has no doubt got the gift of gab. Of the many thousand words he rapidly uttered Tuesday night, he maybe slightly stumbled on one. He’s got rhythm, he’s got some flair.
Lee delivered a lecture about the Constitution to about 75 people who packed a big room at New Dawn Technologies in south Logan on Thursday night, deftly intertwining tales of his family with lessons on public policy.
Michael Lee, a partner at Howrey, former Supreme Court law clerk, and son of the late U.S. solicitor general Rex Lee, thinks his dad would be proud of the announcement he made yesterday, entering the race for the U.S. Senate from Utah as a challenger to Republican incumbent Bob Bennett.
"I wish he were still around to ask, but I think he would be excited," said Lee of his renowned father, who served as SG in the Reagan administration from 1981 to 1985 and died in 1996. And Mike Lee thinks it would be not just fatherly pride, but appreciation of the platform he is running on: a federalist return to a Congress with more limited powers. "He was a believer in federalism and a conservative, but he wasn't a wacko. He didn't want to take us back to 1787, and neither do I."
Lee is seen as a potentially strong candidate against the incumbent, especially after state Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and businessman Fred Lampropoulos passed on the race.
Lee brings an interesting profile to the race, as the son of Rex Lee, who was solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan and president of Brigham Young University. The younger Lee was general counsel to former Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) and has also served as an assistant U.S. attorney.
"What man have I ever met that was more prepared to take on this awesome responsibility?" asked [former U.S. Rep. Jim] Hansen.
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who was seen as Bennett's strongest challenge before he dropped out of the race in November, endorsed Lee's candidacy.
He said the way government operates needs to change, but the other candidates in the field don't have the capacity to beat Bennett.
Lee was also flanked by former U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen, former Gov. Norm Bangerter and eight state legislators who are supporting his candidacy.
Attorney Mike Lee on Tuesday formally launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate against 76-year-old Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah — who is twice his age — saying "it's time for a new generation of leadership in Washington."
..."Meanwhile, Mike Lee, more academic but certainly more expressive than others in the pack, is emerging as the challenger to beat in the state Republican nominating convention on May 8, 2010...