Sen. Mike Lee may be sowing the seeds of his own political demise.
While Obamacare is not popular among Utahns by a long shot, shutting down the government to block the Affordable Care Act may be the push over the finish line the organizers of “Count My Vote” need to get direct primaries on the ballot and eventually approved by voters.
A KSL/Deseret News poll finds 56% of Utahns don’t think stopping Obamacare is worth shutting down the government. That’s a number that should stop Sen. Lee and his supporters in their tracks.
Lee has long been the poster child for Utahns who don’t like the current caucus system. They say (rightly) Lee and his extreme views are a product of a nominating system that caters to the partisan extremes instead of the middle ground where most Utahns firmly sit. Lee and his supporters ousted Sen. Bob Bennett at the GOP convention in 2010 (yes, I know Lee actually finished 2nd to Tim Bridgewater at that convention and eventually won the primary). It’s not hard to connect the dots for Utahns between the system that produced the poster boy for the government shutdown. I’m sure the “Count My Vote” organizers will be more than happy to make those connections.
Lee, along with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, has become one of the prominent faces of the shutdown. He appears regularly on conservative media, and is pilloried in liberal outlets. While that may help him boost fundraising and his national profile, it also gives the “Count My Vote” backers a lot of ammunition and opportunity to point at him and remind Utahns he came out of the state’s antiquated political system.
Granted, not all Utahns will see Lee and his anti-Obamacare quest as an embarrassment, but I’m willing to wager there are far more that would like to see Lee gone and replaced with someone more moderate.
Bob Bennett drew the ire of Republican delegates because of his vote in favor of TARP during the financial meltdown and they made him pay for that. How ironic would it be if Lee’s actions led to Utahns demolishing the very system that is responsible for him being in a position to shut down the government?
There are already whispers about Lee getting a serious challenge from someone like Josh Romney or Dan Liljenquist in 2016, and that’s within the current caucus system. If “Count My Vote” succeeds and the state moves to a direct primary...Katie bar the door! It will be hard to count the number of viable and well-funded candidates who will be licking their chops for a shot at Utah’s Junior Senator. Quite a few of those wouldn’t have a chance in hell of challenging Lee through the caucus system, but a direct primary might be their path to victory.
Those who want to keep the caucuses say the “Count My Vote” initiative is merely a bunch of big-money politicians who can’t get elected through Utah’s existing process. They decry an open primary as favoring those with a lot of name recognition and money. That stands in stark contrast to the current system which tends to choose the extremes. Sen. Mike Lee is simply that system taken to it’s logical conclusion.
I know most Utahns are not fond of President Obama and Obamacare. But, it’s quite remarkable that a clear majority don’t want to shut down the government to stop the Affordable Care Act.
Lee, in his zeal to do the bidding of the right-wing in Utah has given “Count My Vote” a simple equation to show Utahns:
Caucus system = Mike Lee = Government shutdown
It will be interesting to see if Utahns decide to do the math.
(Editor’s note: Utah Policy publisher LaVarr Webb is on the board of “Count My Vote.”)