Texas freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, widely believed to be laying the groundwork for a potential 2016 presidential bid, will be in Utah Friday, helping to raise money for fellow conservative Sen. Mike Lee’s re-election campaign.
The evening reception at the home of former Salt Lake City Councilman Steve Harmsen, will run $2,000 per person. About 60 people have RSVP’d so far, said Chuck Warren, a political consultant who is organizing the event.
"We’re keeping it small," he said, saying it was scheduled at a time that worked for both senators’ schedules.
"He and Senator Lee will take questions and answers about what’s going on in Washington with Syria and Obamacare and all those fun things," Warren said.
Last year, Lee arranged for Cruz to speak to the Utah Republican delegates to the national GOP convention in Tampa.
Cruz and Lee are part of a group of young, conservative tea party-backed senators who have at times bucked leaders of their own party.
Lee is up for re-election in 2016 and no challenger has announced plans to run against him, although former state Republican Party Chairman Thomas Wright has said he is considering a bid.
Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis said his party will also have a strong challenger.
"It’s hard holding people back from running against Mike Lee. Clearly he’s completely out of touch with Utah," Dabakis said. "He’s the very problem we have in Washington. He’s just too extreme, he isn’t willing to compromise, he isn’t willing to get the work done."
It’s fitting, Dabakis said, that Cruz would be helping Lee.
"They’re carbon copies of each other. Mike Lee is an embarrassment to Utah and Ted Cruz is an embarrassment to Texas," Dabakis said.
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