Bennett gets new challenger

Published January 4, 2010 5:32 pm
Politics » Mike Lee was general counsel to Huntsman
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Attorney Mike Lee plans to join the field of candidates challenging Sen. Bob Bennett for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Lee, a prominent Salt Lake City attorney who lives in Alpine, plans to make the announcement tomorrow at the Utah Capitol. He will be endorsed by former Gov. Norm Bangerter and former U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen.

Lee's entry into the race is not a surprise and was widely anticipated for weeks. He had been holding a series of town hall-style meetings throughout Utah where he spoke about the U.S. Constitution and threats to the founding document.

At a gathering of conservative activists last month, he announced plans to challenge Bennett for the seat.

Bennett is under fire from conservative Republicans, in large part because he supported the first round of bank bailouts during the Bush administration, and because he has supported health reform legislation that is unpopular in some circles.

Lee will join a field of candidates that includes businessman Tim Bridgewater, party activist Cherilyn Eagar and James Russell Williams.

Businessman and restaurateur Sam Granato is the lone Democrat running for the seat.

Lee and his brother, Thomas, represented the state in its failed challenge to the 2000 Census, arguing Mormon missionaries went wrongly uncounted.

He was general counsel to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., where he led the

state's legal challenge to Private Fuel Storage's plans to store high-

level nuclear waste on an American Indian reservation in Utah. He left

to clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Previously, he was an assistant U.S. attorney.

He is a lawyer with the firm of Howrey, LLP. He has represented EnergySolutions and in August filed a lawsuit on behalf of several Utah counties challenging Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's suspension of 77 oil and gas leases.

Lee also advised lawmakers on the "Save Our Secret Ballot" push, an effort aimed at blocking an attempt to make it easier to form unions in a workplace.

Lee is the son of Rex Lee, who was solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan and later president of Brigham Young University.

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