This past week there have been press releases and campaign advertisements by people and outside groups claiming the Tea Party has endorsed Mike Lee. Many supporters of the Utah Tea Party think these statements may have been a little presumptions and premature. The Utah Tea Party is a movement of fiscal responsibility. We are a group of individuals with diverse ideas and suggestions among our membership–all views are welcome. Over the past year and a half, we have coordinated with other groups, rallied, written our congressmen, put on delegate training, and encouraged all to get involved in the process. Our combined efforts changed some 70% of the delegates on Caucus night. We proved the process works. At convention, we actually defeated a three-term incumbent senator and replaced him with not one, but two Tea Party candidates. Who would have ever believed it? By any measure, we have already won beyond our dreams.
Two promising Tea Party Candidates are now on tomorrow’s ballot, vying for our U.S. Senate seat. Today celebrities, outside interests, and politicians all endorse their candidate in a chorus of confusing passions. I am often asked by fellow citizens, “Who should I vote for?” Regrettably, the truth–in a din of ill-conceived comments and accusations–can be difficult to discover. For the past 16 months the Utah Tea Party has not taken any position in the senate race between Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee.
Some will try to spin the debate between Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee as a rift in the Utah Tea Party. Nothing could be further from the truth. In terms of principle, both candidates are Tea Party candidates. In terms on preference there is a difference and that is what our democratic process is all about. The beautiful thing about our process is that it invites debate. Debating facts, not rumor, should be the hall mark of the Tea Party and indeed all citizens.
There are some misconceptions about Tim Bridgewater that need to be corrected. Some have said the majority of Tea Party members support Mike Lee. However, 57% of the delegates voted for Tim Bridgewater at convention and many delegates are Utah Tea Party supporters. Some have said Tim Bridgewater’s public acceptance of Senator Bennett’s endorsement says he no longer wishes to distinguish himself apart from Senator Bennett. This is not logical. Does Tim Bridgewater’s acceptance of Cherilyn Eagar’s endorsement say he no longer wishes to distinguish himself from Cherilyn Eagar? Tim Bridgewater has former opponents–both to the left and to the right of him–who think he is the best for the job. On the same note, does Mike Lee’s public acceptance of Mark Shurtleff say he no longer wishes to distinguish himself from Mark Shurtleff and his views on immigration?
The fact is, Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater BOTH courted Bennett’s endorsement. They both know they need Bennett supporters to win. This is no surprise. What is surprising, however, is some people think Mike Lee didn’t actively go after Bennett’s support. What would Mike Lee’s supporters say if Senator Bennett had decided to endorse Mike Lee? Senator Bennett supporters voting for Tim Bridgewater is not news. Look at Mike Lee’s numbers at convention–they went down in every voting round as Tim Bridgewater picked up Senator Bennett’s and Cherilyn Eagar’s support. Even last Friday a poll was released by KSL that shows Tim Bridgewater up by 9 points over Mike Lee–further evidence Tim Bridgewater has a strong support among the Republican base.
Mike Lee is a lawyer. Lawyers make rules. Mike Lee hopes to bring Constitutional principles back into the senate debate–a most worthy goal. Tim Bridgewater is a businessman. Businessmen make jobs. Tim Bridgewater understands the entrepreneurial spirit flourishes in a free-market system where more jobs will be created for all.
As we look across the battlefield of ideas on the morning of June 23rd what will we see? 1/2 of our fellow Republicans will be elated victors–and 1/2 will be losers. That number represents our friends, colleagues, and people from our own party. These are people who believe as we do on many, many issues. Will some who have participated on opposing sides of this great contest no longer be friends? That would be a tragedy. I do not believe in slash-and-burn politics.
I trust the people of Utah to make the right choice–based on facts and not emotions. Please go to each of the candidates’ websites one last time, review the debates, and check out what each candidate stands for. In the end, leaders and outside groups should not decide who our representatives will be–you the people should decide who will represent us. I will support which ever person the people of Utah decide should be our representative. I encourage all Republicans to do the same. Come Wednesday I look forward to continue calling all of you my friends as we continue our fight to reign in federal spending.
Tomorrow I will vote for Tim Bridgewater for U.S. Senate. You may not feel the same and I welcome your own personal choice. I ask you to please join me on Tuesday in voting for the candidate of YOUR choice–WHOEVER that may be. “Who should you vote for?” You should vote your heart because all of us are smarter than any one of us.
Utah Tea Party Organizer
(really, just another blade of grass in a vast movement of concerned citizens who want to bring fiscal responsibility back to our government.)
David Kirkham organized Utah’s First Tea Party. David has organized, or helped to organized, some 15 Tea Parties across the state of Utah.