- Evan McMullin reaffirmed that he wouldn’t caucus with either party if elected to the Senate as an Independent.
- While on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” McMullin said he wanted to play a key role in crafting legislation.
- McMullin contrasted his independence with Mike Lee, his Republican general election opponent.
Independent Senate candidate Evan McMullin on Sunday criticized his opponent, GOP Sen. Mike Lee, over his voting record during his two terms in the upper chamber — while also reaffirming his commitment not to caucus with either major political party if he wins the general election.
During an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” McMullin — an ex-CIA officer and former 2016 presidential candidate — said that he would retain his independence if chosen by Utah voters to serve in the Senate.
Todd presented a scenario of the Senate having 50-49 composition, with McMullin potentially being a deciding vote on the body’s leadership. But the Utahn reaffirmed his stance and also stated that his independence would likely give the state more sway in the chamber.
“I will not caucus with either side. … I think that this will give Utah an added value of influence in the Senate that it just doesn’t have. Certainly we have in Senator Romney someone who has gotten a lot done for our state and our country, working across party lines to get things done,” McMullin said.
He continued: “With Senator Lee, we get none of that. He sits on his hands until it’s time to vote no. And then he goes and complains about our country on cable news. And I’m just not going to do that.”
McMullin then argued that centrist lawmakers in the body have played an outsized role in shaping legislation, a role that he is eager to take on.
“I think that we’ve seen well enough over the past year or two especially that the senators in the chamber who are willing to act with greater independence, serving their constituents, standing up to party bosses, standing up to extremist factions and special interest groups, they have the most influence in the chamber,” he said. “They’re more influential, I think, even than the party bosses. And I want that for Utah. And I know we’ll do a great deal of good with it serving this way.”
Polling in recent months has largely shown a competitive contest between McMullin and Lee in the solidly Republican state.
In the most recent Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll conducted earlier this month — among registered voters — Lee earned the support of 41% of respondents, while 37% backed McMullin and 12% said that they were undecided.