(CNSNews.com) - Utah overwhelmingly voted to re-elect conservative Republican Sen. Mike Lee on Tuesday—even though his colleague Sen. Mitt Romney (R.-Utah) had declined to endorse him.
With 64.3 percent of the vote counted, Lee led independent candidate Evan McMullin by 55.4 percent to 41 percent.
The Salt Lake City Tribune published a story that was updated as of 1:57 a.m. on Wednesday that declared Lee the winner.
McMullin gave a speech on Tuesday night conceding the election.
“I just placed a call to Senator Lee and acknowledged that he’s won reelection,” McMullin said.
Lee also gave a speech declaring his victory.
“Utah has spoken loudly and clearly,” said Lee in his victory speech. “The policies of the Democratic Party failed us, they failed us to the point that red states are having none of it.”
“Utah is quintessentially Western and it’s quintessentially a state that’s about freedom,” Lee said. “We know what that means. We love it and we’re willing to fight for it and sacrifice for it, and we’ve chosen it again tonight.”
An Oct. 16 story in the Washington Post was headlined: “Romney aides irked by Lee plea for support, highlighting GOP divide in Utah. The Post story said:
“For months, Romney had made it clear — both in private and publicly — that he would stay neutral in Lee’s run for a third term against McMullin. Romney wasn’t swayed by state GOP chairman Carson Jorgensen, who said he pressed Lee’s case with Romney early this year and again last week with Romney’s staff. “A Republican candidate should be supporting their Republican colleagues, and that’s all there is to it,” Jorgenson said in an interview.”
Romney, who now serves as the other senator from Utah, started his political career in Massachusetts. In 1994, he ran for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Ted Kennedy and lost. In 2002, he was elected governor of Massachusetts. In 2018, he was elected a senator from Utah.