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Senate candidates face off as midterm elections approach

Mike Lee (R) and Evan McMullin (I) on a debate stage at Utah Valley University.
Utah Debate Commission
Mike Lee (R) and Evan McMullin (I) debating at at Utah Valley University.

As the midterm elections near, republican Senator Mike Lee and independent candidate Evan McMullin delivered their final messages to Utah voters before mail-in ballots are sent out starting Tuesday.

Throughout the debate, the two sparred over key issues like inflation, abortion and the environment.

The two found common ground on some issues but drew stark contrast on others. Lee started in on inflation.

“There’s only one cause of inflation. It’s excessive spending by Congress. I will continue to fight every day to rein that in. I’ve stood against my party time and time again to oppose reckless spending. I will do it again and again and again," Lee said.

“I think maybe this is something that Senator Lee and I agree on, at least in part. We need to send people to Washington who are willing to stand up both to Republicans and Democrats in the White House who are guilty of reckless spending," McMullin said.

The most divisive issue of the night was the 2020 election.

“In the days leading up to January 6th, when the votes were going to be open and counted, I had a job to do. There were rumors circulating suggesting that some states were considering switching up their slates of electors. I made phone calls to figure out whether the rumors were true. The rumors were false. On that basis, I voted to certify the results of the election," Lee asserted.

“For you to talk about the importance of the Electoral College I think is rich. I think you knew how important it was when you sought to urge the White House that had lost an election to find fake electors to overturn the will of the people. Senator Lee, that was the most egregious betrayal of our nation’s constitution in its history by a US senator," McMullin countered.

In the closest Utah senate race in recent memory, each candidate is focused on pulling undecided voters into their coalition. The debate was their final pitch to voters before some begin filling out and turning in their ballots as early as Tuesday.

While mail-in ballots are already being sent out, there is still time to register to vote before the October 28 deadline.

Anna grew up begging her mom to play music instead of public radio over the car stereo on the way to school. Now, she loves radio and the power of storytelling through sound. While she is happy to report on anything from dance concerts to laughter practice, her main focus at UPR is political reporting. She is studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University and wants to work in political communication after she graduates. In her free time, she spends time with her rescue dog Quigley and enjoys rock climbing.