June 15th, 2010
08:23 AM ET
12 years ago

Tea Party Express takes sides in Utah battle

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/15/art.mikelee6.mikelee.jpg caption ="Utah Senate hopeful Mike Lee was endorsed by the Tea Party Express on Tuesday."](CNN) - With one week to go until Utah's primary, one of the two Republican Senate candidates in the race is getting a major endorsement.

The national Tea Party organization Tea Party Express Tuesday backed Mike Lee in the battle to succeed fellow Republican Bob Bennett.

The move comes four days after Bennett endorsed Tim Bridgewater, the other candidate in the contest.

Bridgewater and Lee finished first and second last month at the Utah Republican party convention, advancing to the June 22 primary. Bridgewater and Lee touted themselves as more reliable conservatives than Bennett, who finished third in the voting by delegates, eliminating him from advancing to the primary and ending his chances of re-election for a fourth term in the Senate. Bennett became the first sitting senator to go down to defeat in a primary season marked by a strong anti-incumbent sentiment.

"Mike Lee is a proud constitutional conservative who can be trusted to uphold the principles of the tea party movement," says Amy Kremer, Director of Grassroots & Coalitions for the Tea Party Express, in a statement.

Tea Party Express, best known for its three national bus tours, pumped more than half a million dollars into the recent fight for the Nevada Republican Senate nomination, helping transform former state lawmaker Sharron Angle, once a long-shot, into an easy winner in last week's primary election.

FreedomWorks has also endorsed Lee, and its volunteers are assisting in get out the vote efforts on the ground in Utah. FreedomWorks is a nonprofit conservative organization that helps train volunteer activists and has provided much of the organizational heft behind the Tea Party movement.

In endorsing Bridgewater Friday, Bennett said that "I am impressed by the fact that he, like me, brings a businessman approach to political issues."

Bennett upset many conservatives with his vote in 2007 in favor of President George W. Bush's plan for a pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, and his 2008 vote in favor of the federal bailout of large banks and financial institutions.

The fiscally conservative Club for Growth actively worked to defeat Bennett, as did local Tea Party organizations and Tea Party Express. The group's third cross country bus tour included stops in Utah in March, where Tea Party Express leaders urged Republican voters to defeat Bennett in his bid for re-election.

The GOP dominates statewide elections in Utah and the winner of the Republican primary will be considered the favorite to win the general election in November.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: 2010 • Mike Lee • Tea Party Express • Tea Party movement • Utah
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    constitutional conservative??? what in hell does that even mean?

    As with most of the moronic rhetoric of the tea bag party, this is just more worthless spewing about ideas and ideals these people don't even understand....


    June 15, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  2. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "Mike Lee is a proud constitutional conservative..."

    What precisely does that mean? The phrase "constitutional conservative" certainly doesn't apply to the would-be theocrats of the neo-cons, and there are so many "Tea Parties" that I'm not sure what Mr Lee means by "the principles of the tea party movement."

    June 15, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  3. Independent One

    Down with the socialistic liberal scum I say.Let's have a spot of tea.

    June 15, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  4. Sniffit

    Good...now, instead of focusing on political fluff and blather, let's see an article about what this guy Lee really believes, so we can judge whether he's just as much of an absolute lunatic as that Angle woman...or maybe he brings his own recipe for crazy to the numbnut potluck we call the Tealiban.

    June 15, 2010 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  5. Irma in North Carolina

    What are the princpals of the tea party. I would say their princpals are to throw hate and lies out to the public. And to put down the president of the US. Some one has to stop this group their are dangerous.

    June 15, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  6. gt

    americans want honest , less taxes and better government no matter the party....and to get out of afganistan and iraq....

    June 15, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. philthetruth

    Time to restore the country, people...

    June 15, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  8. Patsy, Texas

    So now we know: "Mike Lee--can be trusted to uphold the
    principles of the Tea Party".
    What about upholding the Constitution of the United States?
    The Tea Party may have started out with good intentions, but
    they have become a party of intolerance for anyone who
    disagrees with them, and their "chosen ones" are real head shakers:
    They screech, lie, call any and everybody terrible names, have
    no clue about diplomacy, never listen to other views, care nothing
    about the environment, much less know anything about it.
    Their agenda goes way beyond "taxes".

    June 15, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  9. Your endorsement counts...against you

    I'm thrilled to see a Tea Party endorsement anytime...that tells me NOT to vote for that person, LOL! Thanks!

    June 15, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  10. katiec

    What are the principles of the tea party? From what I have seen and read they are being blindly manipulated by the rich, radical right, supporting irresponsible ideals that will set our country back for years.
    They, and the republicans, are a disgrace to our political system and our country.
    It is time for responsible, caring Americans to stand strong and say, enough is enough.

    June 15, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  11. Mikey

    "Tea Party Express ... pumped more than half a million dollars into the recent fight for the Nevada Republican Senate nomination, helping .. Sharron Angle, once a long-shot, into an easy winner in last week's primary election."

    The TP Express is going to need a lot more money to turn the nutcases it is promoting in the primaries into general election winners. Angle's own statements, like Paul in KY, will make the best advertisements against them.

    Thank you Tea Party.

    June 15, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  12. NVa Native

    "a proud constitutional conservative" means someone who only supports the pieces of the Constiution that supports his personal opinions.
    Basically another hypocritcal sleaze ball who follows the mindless and factless ramblings of the profit motivated celbrities of fox media and hate radio.

    June 15, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |