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Mike Lee wins in Utah, and so does the tea party

Attorney Mike Lee, a former clerk for Justice Samuel Alito who consolidated national and local tea party support, won the GOP's U.S. Senate nomination in Utah. He defeated businessman Tim Bridgewater, who won the party's convention nod and the late endorsement of Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah.).

Lee, speaking to a crowd chanting, “We like Mike,” called his victory a “peaceful revolution.”

“It is different than any election year any of us have ever seen in our lifetime,” he said. “It is different because people are taking the power back.”

This is a clear-cut victory for tea partyers. Lee had the endorsements of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and FreedomWorks -- that organization dispatched volunteers to the Beehive State to stump and organize for a campaign that eked out a 51-49 win. (The Tea Party Express endorsed Lee too, after the convention.) Bridgewater even won the endorsement of the Salt Lake Tribune, which described the candidates as "Tweedledum and Tweedledee" and fretted about Lee's hardline positions on Constitutional issues. They ran home the message that Bridgewater, despite his rhetoric, was more liberal than Lee. It worked.

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 8:13 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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