'I'm losing': Mike Lee frets in fundraising email as Evan McMullin surges in Utah Senate race
Mike Lee / Gage Skidmore

Disgust with Donald Trump in Utah has propelled the state's bizarre Senate race into one of the most closely watched races in the 2022 midterms.

"Just weeks before the Nov. 8 vote, Utah’s senior senator, Republican Mike Lee, is now acknowledging a real reelection threat from Evan McMullin, an anti-Donald Trump independent and former Republican challenging him in the state’s most competitive Senate race in decades," the Associated Press reported Saturday. "Lee’s campaign insists it is confident heading into Election Day, but there are unmistakable signs of anxiety in a race shaping up as a referendum on the direction that Trump has taken the Republican Party."

The report came only days after McMullin made Lee's Jan. 6 role a top issue in their Senate debate.

"Lee recently sent out fundraising emails with the subject line: 'I’m losing.' In an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program, Lee begged the state’s other Republican senator, Mitt Romney, to 'get on board' and endorse him," the AP reported. "And speaking to reporters after a debate, the two-term senator said what his campaign had previously avoided saying: 'It’s close.' In reliably Republican Utah, the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has emerged as a potent issue after the House committee investigating the riot published Lee’s text messages with then-President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows."

McMullin also got a boost on the issue on Friday from a Republican member of the House Select Committee Investigating the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd in an auditorium at the Salt Lake City Library, with more watching the conversation from an overflow room, House Jan. 6 committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said 'democracy is on the line' this midterm election cycle," The Salt Lake Tribune reported Saturday. "Throughout the conversation, both Kinzinger and McMullin took jabs at Lee. Although the incumbent senator voted to certify the results of the presidential election, he has come under fire for texts sent to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, seemingly advising and assisting former President Donald Trump on his efforts to overturn the 2020 election."

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Following the event, McMullin went for ice cream with his wife and kids and went viral on social media after posting a photo of a note on a napkin he received.

"Dear, Evan," the note began. " I don't want to bother you with your family, but wanted you to know that your campaign makes me proud to be a Utahn. Thank you so much."