Ted Cruz's Sidekick Gets Cold Shoulder From GOP
Many Utah Republicans want GOP Sen. Mike Lee gone
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2013 11:33 AM CDT
Sen. Mike Lee speaks during the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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(Newser) – Mike Lee may have plenty of Tea Party pals on Capitol Hill, but back in his home state of Utah, the GOP senator is growing decidedly less popular. Since the government shutdown, approval ratings for Ted Cruz's strongest ally have fallen, and his fellow Republicans are some of his strongest critics. "Among the Tea Party, Mike Lee is a rock star," says a former Republican state lawmaker, per the Wall Street Journal. "Among everyone else, not so much. There's real unhappiness about what he has done to Utah and to the image of the Republican Party." (One complaint: That Utah's economy suffered with the shutdown-fueled closure of its national parks.)

Utah may be conservative, but it's business-minded and doesn't suffer "ideological wack-jobs," former governor Jon Huntsman Jr. tells the Washington Post. "For all of its labeling as a red state, underneath it all Utah is a pretty pragmatic Western state, a just-get-it-done ethos," he says. Now the party is considering running a primary challenge against Lee, and altering the party's nomination system (from a caucus to a direct primary) so it will be harder for him to get re-elected in 2016. Thomas Wright, a former Utah Republican Party chairman, says he's so "exasperated" with Lee's actions he's considering running against him. "I want to work with people to get things done," he says. "I want to go be a leader and build bridges, not burn them down."