UTAH (ABC4) – Becky Edwards, who formerly held a seat on the Utah House of Representatives for the 20th district from 2009-2018, announced her run for one of Utah’s US Senate seats on May 27, 2021. She officially qualified to participate in the Republican primary election on April 4th, in which she will challenge incumbant Sen. Mike Lee for his seat.

Edwards’ relatively moderate platform and participation on the advisory board of non-profit Mormon Women For Ethical Government has made her a popular candidate not only among Utah Republicans dissatisfied with Sen. Mike Lee, but also among Utah’s more progressive citizens.

Edwards’ popularity among Utahns has been strengthened as she channels Utah’s early history of women actively engaged in politics. Her website features a photo of her posing with a statue of early suffragettes. Edwards maintains that while Utah’s history of women’s “firsts” is important to her, she is more proud of how these women in politics have been “uniquely qualified for service” in politics and government.

Edwards has garnered grassroots support from Utahns not formerly registered as republicans. Some changed their registration before the deadline on March 31st in order to support her in the Republican primary, in which only registered Republicans can participate. The outcome of the primary will most likely determine the outcome of the mid-term election held in November 2022.

When asked to comment on this grassroots, bipartisan support in the primaries, Edwards commented that the goal of her campaign is to promote civic engagement in every form, but not party registration specifically.

Edwards’ bipartisan popularity could prove counterproductive. Other Republican senators nationwide who have adopted similar moderate or bipartisan platforms have been accused on social media as being “RINOs”, or “Republicans in Name Only”, hurting their odds of being reelected. Most recently, Sen. Mitt Romney has been accused of being a RINO both for his support of Supreme Court Justice appointee Katanji Brown Jackson and not endorsing Sen. Mike Lee for reelection.

Edwards commented on her critics calling her a “Republican in name only” by saying that “labels don’t matter, work matters.” She continues to run on a platform based on hard work and common ground for Utahns. Her campaign slogan is “Productive. Inclusive. Proactive.”

While incumbent Sen. Mike Lee has been criticized by Utahns for his support of former President Donald Trump, many outspoken Republicans in Utah stand by Lee for his loyalty to the former president and his consistently conservative policy contributions. Lee’s supporters also approve of his conservative stance on economic policy, such as his recently proposed SHIP IT act to ease the impact of inflation on Utahns.

The impact of bipartisan support for Becky Edwards’ chances in the primary against Sen. Mike Lee remains difficult to predict. March 31 was the last day for voters to switch party registration before the primary vote on June 28, limiting the total effect newly registered Republicans can have on the outcome of the primary election.