David R. Irvine: Becky Edwards would be a worker, not a performer, in the U.S. Senate

Unlike Mike Lee, Edwards knows how to work with others to get things done.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Former Rep. Becky Edwards launches her U.S. Senate campaign against Mike Lee in the Capitol Rotunda, on Thursday, May 27, 2021.

I served as a Republican in the Utah House of Representatives from 1973-1979, back when Utah politics worked a little differently.

It’s hard to believe now, but Utah used to operate under some semblance of a two-party system. Which meant Republicans like me had to learn how to work with our fellow Democrats in order to get anything done.

By 2008, the year Becky Edwards first ran for office, things had changed. Republicans differed among themselves almost as much as their opponents outside the party. Compromise now meant navigating a fractured political institution, and not many people, even career politicians, were up for the task. That’s why I and others encouraged Becky Edwards to run for office.

From the moment we met, I recognized Edwards as someone with the unique ability to build bridges where others failed (or just refused outright). And to my great happiness, I was right. During her 10 years in office, Becky proved particularly effective at both unifying the Republican Party and championing bipartisan cooperation.

Instead of shying away from the hard work of compromise and collaboration, she developed excellent working relationships with every member of the House — including Mike Noel, one of the most conservative politicians in the state. Becky and Mike disagreed on plenty. But Becky never saw that as a reason to abandon her responsibilities as a public servant, or to personalize disagreements.

Sen. Mike Lee doesn’t just personalize. He demonizes. Just read his campaign solicitations.

No matter what the circumstances, Becky is an immensely hardworking person of great personal integrity. It’s hard to not enjoy working with her; I’d say it’s impossible. More importantly, she is not a captive of special interests. She has no interest in performance politics.

If Becky were to represent us in the Senate, she would actively seek out and build strong working relationships on both sides of the aisle. She knows how to approach public policy in a way that brings buy-in from all the important sectors and stakeholders.

When I consider Becky’s two primary opponents for the U.S. Senate seat, there’s no question that Becky is the right person for the job. Unlike Ally Isom, Becky’s actually won campaigns and served multiple terms in office. She’s had to make tough votes, and she doesn’t waffle. She’ll bring a political background and experience that’s extremely valuable in navigating national politics and big senatorial egos.

And unlike our current senator, Mike Lee, she is not mean-spirited. It would never occur to her to call names, shut down the government or obstruct policy work over a perceived personal slight. An even greater significant difference between the two is that Becky has never defined herself by an elected office, and unlike anyone else in this race, Becky has shown she can confidently step away from power to serve in other ways. Power, for Mike Lee, is something never to be surrendered.

Mike Lee has built an entire career on being the sole negative vote on nonpartisan policies, policies only intended to benefit Americans. He was the only U.S. senator to vote against The ALS Disability Insurance Access Act, The Opioid Crisis Response Act, America’s Water Infrastructure Act and, perhaps most bizarrely, the designation of a former Japanese internment camp as a historic site.

Utah has not been well served by Mike Lee, and there is no reason to believe that giving him a third term will yield different results.

I helped encouraged Becky Edwards to run for the Utah Legislature in 2008. In 2022, I’m encouraging Utah voters to send her to the U.S. Senate.

| Courtesy David Irvine

David Irvine, Salt Lake City, is an attorney and a former Republican state legislator.