On Friday, the Washington Examiner reported that a key right-wing political group is committing $2.5 million in TV ads to defending Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), amid sudden fears that he could be vulnerable in a race against an independent candidate.
"Utah is a red state, and Republicans are favored to make gains in Congress amid President Joe Biden’s languishing job approval ratings," reported David M. Drucker. "But the Club for Growth, a conservative advocacy group in Washington, is worried enough about Lee’s prospects that it is now airing a television spot statewide, on broadcast and cable, attacking McMullin as a closet liberal."
"'What does Evan McMullin believe, and who’s paying him?' the voice-over in the Club for Growth ad says as the spot opens, before going on to accuse him of using donations to political groups he controls to 'push a left-wing agenda,'" said the report. "The ad was written by Republican consultant Andy Sere. Republican strategist Jeff Roe, who advises Lee’s close friend, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), placed the media buy."
According to the report, the Club for Growth believes the campaign is necessary because the "Senate Leadership Fund can’t be trusted to protect conservatives."
McMullin, a former CIA officer who previously ran for president in 2016, is a conservative former Republican who left the party over his opposition to Donald Trump. He has pledged not to caucus with either Democrats or Republicans if he wins the 2022 Senate race. Democrats declined to nominate a candidate of their own and endorsed McMullin's campaign, because a theoretical McMullin victory would further complicate GOP efforts to win the chamber.
Lee, a far-right senator, drew controversy in 2020 when he claimed that the United States is "not a democracy."
All of this comes as Senate Republicans face a massive cash crunch, with strategists angered at the rapid burn rate of funds from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) on chairman Rick Scott's personal projects, even as Republicans are badly outspent by Democrats on air in key Senate races around the country.