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Edwards campaign gathering signatures across state for Senate run

By Harrison Epstein - Daily Herald | Jan 31, 2022
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Sarah Steimel, a volunteer for U.S. Senate hopeful Becky Edwards, collects signatures on petitions to get the GOP candidate on the primary ballot Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, on Historic 25th Street in Ogden.
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Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, speaks during a news conference at the Utah Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, in Salt Lake City.
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Sarah Steimel, left, talks with Steve Wynn, center, and Bobbi Wynn as the latter signs a petition to help get U.S. Senate hopeful Becky Edwards on the GOP primary ballot. Steimel, a volunteer for Edwards, collected signatures Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, on Historic 25th Street in Ogden.
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Volunteers talk at a signature-gathering event held in Olympus Park in Lehi on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022.

Across the state, volunteers for Becky Edwards’ campaign were in full force for the second straight weekend.

In 20 locations across eight counties, volunteers were trying to get signatures and — ideally — have Edwards on the Republican primary ballot for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Mike Lee.

She previously served in the Utah House of Representatives from 2009 until 2018 representing District 20, which covers parts of North Salt Lake, Woods Cross and West Bountiful.

Edwards needs 28,000 signatures to get on the ballot and her campaign is hoping to get 38,000 since some will likely be disqualified, said Chelsea Fife, communications director for the campaign.

“We’re right in the thick of gathering signatures,” Fife said.

In Lehi, the signature gathering was led by volunteer Brendan Wright. Wright, who announced a run for the seat in March 2021 before dropping out and supporting Edwards, was optimistic after spending weekends gathering signatures.

“The grassroots excitement for people who are working on her team that keeps growing and growing and growing is really what gives me the spark that I think we can do it,” Wright said. “I firmly believe we can get 28,000 signatures and be on the primary ballot for sure.”

He estimated about 100 signatures were collected at each event in the last few weeks. According to Edwards, over 300 signature packets — which have 50 spaces each — have been mailed to volunteers since Jan. 3. While the campaign does not know exactly how many signatures have been received thus far, they hope to have an idea in early February.

One Ogden-area Edwards backer says, little by little, more people are learning about the Senate candidate.

Interest in her has “definitely grown,” said Sarah Steimel, who was collecting signatures Friday along Historic 25th Street in Ogden on petitions to get Edwards on the Republican primary ballot. “I think people are still learning about her. I think people are interested in a change or options besides just the incumbent.”

Edwards herself was out on the trail Saturday, meeting people at La Crepe OG in Ogden before heading to the North Ogden Library, Tremonton and Logan.

“It’s a great opportunity to share some good news. People are tremendously enthusiastic,” Edwards told the Daily Herald.

Edwards is one of several prominent challengers to Lee in the Senate race, including former spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Ally Isom and former presidential candidate Evan McMullin, who is running as an independent.

“I think the more good people we have who run, the more likely it is we’re going to elect a great candidate. What I really think, for me, makes Becky Edwards stand out is her experience in the Utah Legislature for 10 years and seeing what she did,” Wright said.

She worked frequently to pass pieces of environmental legislation, including 2015’s House Bills 226 and 229 which remade the authority of the Division of Air Quality and amended provisions relating to air quality, which were both signed into law.

Edwards said that going across the state, event to event, she has seen people click with the message.

Rather than be “Not Mike Lee,” Edwards has felt people become wholehearted supporters.

A handful of people showed up to sign petitions at the Ogden initiative led by Steimel, the backers touting what they believe are Edwards’ attributes. They also cited the shortcomings of Sen. Mike Lee, the incumbent Edwards is hoping to unseat.

“I just think she’s a little more moderate, a little more liberal. She seems to listen more,” said Bobbi Wynn of Ogden, who signed Steimel’s petition. Also signing was her husband, Steve Wynn, citing distaste with Lee, who he views as in lockstep with President Donald Trump. “I just think Lee is following suit with Trump,” he said.

What’s more, Lee, he thinks, is “sanctimonious.”

Similar beliefs about Lee were held in Utah County, particularly by Saratoga Springs resident Marisa Grover who came out specifically to sign.

“I don’t believe that Sen. Lee is doing his job as our senator; he’s lazy and does nothing for us so I wanted to come out and support Becky,” she said.

Grover added that Edwards’ policy and history with clean air is important to her, as a person with asthma.

Joining the Edwards campaign in Lehi was Jake Hunsaker, a former employee of Google and Goldman Sachs, who was gathering signatures of his own for a spot on the ballot to primary 4th District Rep. Burgess Owens.

Instead of the 28,000 signatures needed by Edwards for a statewide race, Hunsaker only needs 7,000 from residents of the 4th District to be in the Republican primary.

Under new Congressional maps drawn and approved last year, Utah County has been split between District 4 and District 3, represented by former Provo Mayor John Curtis.

Residents in Lehi and American Fork, west of the freeway, along with everywhere east of Utah Lake and south of Springivlle, are now in the 4th District.

“Our district is diverse and unique. Every other district has a broad range of voters that representatives need to acknowledge, need their voice heard,” Hunsaker said, specifically pointing out Owens not meeting with Democrats in the state Legislature.

Hunsaker added that he is running to bring civility back in communities, something he charges Owens with worsening, particularly in regard to Jan. 6, 2021, and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

While not formally endorsing each other, Hunsaker said that he and Edwards face similar challenges going up against incumbents.

“We are both trying to build grassroots organizations and galvanize our local communities in a unique way,” he said.

Standard-Examiner reporter Tim Vandenack contributed to this story.

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