Senator Mike Lee: Tea Party Kingmaker?

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Many politicians seeking the Tea Party’s vote in 2012 are making an unusual stop on their campaign trails: the office of Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah). A founding member of the Senate’s Tea Party Caucus, Lee quickly made a name for himself as a Tea Party scion in his first six months in office, and perspective lawmakers are taking note.

“Lee has already met personally with more than a half a dozen candidates, made endorsements in two Senate primaries and set up a pair of leadership political action committees to aid those who share his constitutionalist brand of conservatism,” POLITICO reported.

Lee has committed himself to finding candidates that support the Tea Party agenda and helping those candidates find the grassroots support to win big, difficult elections.

“I am convinced that we need new Guards to protect our future security. Leaders in Washington have proven that they will invariably pursue a path of reckless and unsustainable spending that will reduce every man, woman, and child in this country to the despotism of debt. After spending my first six months in Washington in a fight to save our country from a looming and predictable fiscal disaster, it seems that too many of the leaders here are ‘disposed to suffer,’” Lee wrote in a blog on his website, quoting from the Declaration of Independence.

“I, for one, am forever grateful that the signers of the Declaration of Independence didn’t suffer from ‘pledge fatigue.’ When I see their signatures on the Declaration, I am convinced that theirs is the brand of leadership that we desperately need,” Lee wrote.

Lee, who never held a political office before, defeated a powerful Republican incumbent, former Senator Robert Bennett, six months ago. He used grassroots movements and very little funding to grab the GOP nod.

“He defeated an incumbent in a primary and that gives him some name I.D. that he wouldn’t have otherwise,” Representative Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a Senate candidate who earned Lee’s backing to replace retiring Senator Jon Kyl, told POLITICO. “He’s highly regarded among conservatives, seen as a constitutional conservative and in a Republican primary, that’s a good label to have.”

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