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A dead heat in Utah, or an edge for Tim Bridgewater?

Utah Republicans are heading to the polls Tuesday to decide whether attorney Mike Lee or businessman Tim Bridgewater will be their nominee for U.S. Senate. Since winning at the May party convention, Bridgewater has been in the driver's seat. The final poll on the race, conducted by the Deseret News and surveying 581 voters, had Bridgewater up 42-33 over Lee -- both men struggling for the support that they won in May, although the plus for Lee was that the margin was smaller.

If Bridgewater is ahead, it's not for lack of trying from tea party groups. The Tea Party Express and FreedomWorks have endorsed Lee, and FreedomWorks staffers have been on the ground for days, marshaling support for their candidate. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has endorsed Lee, while outgoing Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) has endorsed Bridgewater. While tea partyers hope that Lee got the better end of that deal, the GOP base in the primary is the one Bennett was confident he could win over if he survived the convention. Also emboldening Lee activists is the belief that primary voters are, generally, more religiously heterodox than convention attendees. Lee was hit by a piece of ugly direct mail asking whether he had "Utah values."

Here's the message Lee is closing with.

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 9:09 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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