Sen. Lee will only participate in Utah GOP-run primary debates

May 18, 2022, 3:53 PM | Updated: 6:34 pm
Sen Lee debates formula...
Sen. Mike Lee's campaign announced Wednesday that he will debate challenger Evan McMullin in a general election debate. The Utah Debate Commission announced the debate will be on Oct. 17 at Utah Valley University. Photo Credit: Kristin Murphy/Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee’s campaign said on Wednesday that Lee will only appear in a primary debate sponsored by the Utah GOP.


In a statement, the Lee campaign reiterated concern that a Republican primary debate should be run by Republicans as opposed to the independent Utah Debate Commission. The campaign also implied that the Utah Debate Commission “wasn’t willing to work in collaboration with the Utah GOP.”

One stumbling block cited by Utah Republicans, and reported by the Deseret News, is that the debate commission wouldn’t reveal the debate moderators until after all candidates had decided whether they would participate. Another was that the debate commission wouldn’t allow the Utah GOP to have the last word on the choice of moderator.

The Utah GOP’s first primary debate will be held on June 1. The first debate held by the Utah Debate Commission is on June 2.

The Utah Debate Commission responded to Sen. Lee’s announcement on KSL NewsRadio.

“The Debate Commission is nonpartisan and independent,” said Wayne Niederhauser co-chair of the Utah Debate Commission. “That is the design of the Debate Commission from its beginning, almost a decade ago.”

Niederhauser further states that independence is a key element to the Utah Debate Commission.

“Our independence is such an important part of the credibility our debates we may want to partner with somebody,” he said. “But it doesn’t work because it tarnishes that independence, and we feel that’s the important part of what the Debate Commission stands for.”

To listen to all of Niederhauser’s interview, click on the play button below.

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Sen. Lee will only participate in Utah GOP-run primary debates