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WSU prof vying for US Senate switches to GOP, cites McMullin entry

By Tim Vandenack - | Feb 10, 2022
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Evan Barlow, a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Mike Lee. He originally planned to run as an independent but now will run as a Republican.
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U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican.
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Evan McMullin, independent hopeful for the U.S. Senate in the 2022 election cycle

OGDEN — Evan Barlow, a Weber State faculty member and long-shot U.S. Senate hopeful, has switched tracks and now will vie as a Republican.

He had been running as an unaffiliated hopeful, but filed his changed status with the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 31. “Part of it was strategic,” he said.

He singled out the entry of Evan McMullin, also an independent candidate, into the race for the seat now held by U.S. Sen. Mike Lee .

“When Evan McMullin entered the race, it changed everything,” prompting “thought and internal reflection,” Barlow said.

Barlow, an assistant professor of supply chain management at Weber State, had tough words for Lee, a conservative GOPer seeking his third term, and touted the potential prospects of McMullin. McMullin unsuccessfully vied for U.S. president in 2016, but still garnered 21.5% of the vote in Utah as an independent. Furthermore, some Utah Democrats, Barlow said, have mulled the notion of not fielding a Senate candidate this cycle to bolster McMullin’s prospects of defeating Lee, should both make it onto the November ballot.

Either way, Barlow’s bid has obstacles.

He’s not going to petition for a spot on the ballot, like two other GOP hopefuls, Ally Isom and Becky Edwards. As a Republican, he’d have to get signatures of 28,000 registered voters on petitions, a costly and time-consuming proposition.

Rather, he plans to seek a place on the ballot at the Utah Republican Party convention, which requires mustering support of party delegates. Delegates are the core GOP activists and though Barlow has been registered as a GOPer since he was 18, his views don’t always align with other Republicans. His focus is on bolstering the U.S. economy and, contrary to some in the party, he wouldn’t favor legislation to ban critical race theory and isn’t clamoring to reverse the 2020 U.S. presidential election, as sought by Donald Trump.

Indeed, Barlow steered clear of professing fealty to the former U.S. president.

“I will not pledge allegiance to any man,” he said. He went on: “I think if Republicans want to lose, they should continue pushing Trump.”

Beyond that, Barlow doesn’t plan to actively engage in fundraising. He favors campaign finance reform, noting, with chagrin, that 90% of Lee’s donations come from outside Utah. He fears this makes the incumbent potentially beholden to interests outside the state.

He also noted the $6.12 million Lee raised in 2016 for his reelection bid that year compared to just $77,436 raised by Democratic contender Misty Snow. Lee defeated Snow by picking up 68.1% of the vote compared to Snow’s 27.1%.

“I think Mike Lee has too much money to spend,” Barlow said.

Interestingly, Barlow garnered the attention of America Rising, an Arlington, Virginia-based opposition research firm that works on behalf of Republican candidates and against Democrats, according to media reports. Through America Rising Senior Vice President Allan Blutstein, the firm filed a public records request last month with Weber State, seeking copies of emails sent by Barlow at the university “that mention Mike Lee (U.S. Senator),” among other things.

The university released two emails to America Rising, both meant by Barlow to inform his university superiors about his potential plans as a candidate, as required by Weber State. “With a very high probability that I’d lose in the primary contest, my campaign would almost certainly be over by the end of June,” Barlow wrote in one email.

Barlow isn’t sure what spurred American Rising to make the records request, or if the Lee campaign had a hand in the matter. Neither reps from the firm nor Lee’s campaign immediately responded to Standard-Examiner queries on Thursday seeking comment.

“If it is Mike Lee, he’s got too much money,” Barlow said.

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