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Utah Republican Party plans to hold its own debates, Senator Mike Lee will be there

May 13, 2022, 3:31 PM | Updated: 5:56 pm
Utah republican debates...
Left: Becky Edwards. Center: Ally Isom. Right: Sen. Mike Lee. Photo courtesy Campaign of Becky Edwards, Campaign of Ally Isom, and Campaign of Sen. Mike Lee

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Republican Party is planning to hold its own primary election debates for federal races, including the three-way GOP race for Senate.

Senator Mike Lee’s campaign says the senator will take the stage.

“Senator Lee will participate in the primary debate sanctioned by the Utah Republican Party,” Lee’s campaign told KSL NewsRadio in a text.

These debates will be separate from the ones being put on by the Utah Debate Commission (the Commission) after a week of back and forth, where Utah GOP Chair Carson Jorgensen urged candidates to hold off debating in the Commission debates arguing a republican primary debate should include input from the party.

Lee’s campaign did not say if he will participate in that one, slated for June 2nd.

Jorgensen told KSL NewsRadio on Friday they were close to settling on a date, time, and location.

“We’re going to try to do them before primary ballots go out, that’s a must,” Jorgensen said. “We are actively working with the campaigns to see which dates work for them so we can make sure everybody is there.”

The plan has critics

Some people have been critical of Jorgensen’s calls, arguing Utah’s Republican Party may be trying to shield candidates from participating in debates put on by the Commission.

“People are like, ‘oh, you’re trying to cover for Mike Lee, you’re trying to cover for Chris Stewart,” Jorgensen said. “I don’t cover for anybody. We actually want to see these people on the debate stage, and we want to make them feel comfortable to get on the debate stage.”

Jorgensen told KSL NewsRadio it is up to candidates to decide if they will participate in debates put on by the Commission. He said the planned Commission debates made some candidates wary over a lack of information and communication from the debate Commission.

Utah Republican debates: Who, what, when, where

Ally Isom and Becky Edwards have announced their participation in the Commission debates. KSL is working to confirm their participation in the GOP sponsored debates.

Jorgensen said a team is being put together to determine the date, time, and location of the GOP debates.

Reaction from the Utah Debate Commission

Utah Debate Commission Executive Director Erik Nielsen responded to the Republican Party’s plan to hold its own primary election debates.

“Again, we have a track record,” he said to KSL NewsRadio. “We have been producing debates since 2014. We have been producing primary debates since 2018. In 2018, we produced three debates – two of them were Republican and one was Democrat. In 2020, we produced five debates – four of them were Republican primaries and one of them as a Democrat primary. This year, it just happened to be they are all Republican. But nothing has changed in our mindset. We are producing independent, nonpartisan debates.”

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