The Fox News Decision projects that Republican incumbent Mike Lee will hold on in the Utah Senate race. He defeats independent candidate Evan McMullin, who also failed in his 2016 presidential bid.
The Utah Senate election became an unexpectedly tight race as Lee, who was first elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, faced a challenge from former CIA agent and one-time never-Trump presidential candidate Evan McMullin, who ran as an independent.
McMullin sought to capitalize on anti-Trump sentiment, pointing to the former president's denial of the 2020 election while Lee focused his campaign on tying President Biden to high inflation and the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Public opinion polls showed Lee ahead of McMullin by anywhere between 5 and 20 points ahead during the midterm election cycle and. And though Lee outraised McMullin, the independent candidate received a boost from tech industry donors late in the race.
McMullin promised if he was elected that he would not caucus with either Republicans or Democrats in the Senate, but his campaign paid Democrat-aligned firms throughout his campaign and he raised funds through the Democratic Party's fundraising organization ActBlue.
Former President Donald Trump won Utah with 58% of the vote in 2020, but McMullin campaigned on abortion following the Supreme Court's overturn of Roe v. Wade, saying Lee was out of step with most of the state on the issue.
"I think that he, like many other politicians in our country, have played politics with this obviously critical issue, McMullin said in an interview with Fox News. "And they do it because they think that if they divide Americans against each other, they can raise more money."