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Sen. Lee set as keynote speaker at tea party event

By Richard Piatt | Posted - Nov 8th, 2013 @ 10:48pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Senator Mike Lee will be the keynote speaker at a tea party event in Iowa on Saturday, but experts say this may hurt him in Utah.

Des Moines hosted the Faith and Freedom Coalition fundraiser where Lee spoke. The coalition and fundraiser cater to tea party conservatives which many say is the crowd Senator Lee has always targeted.

The fundraiser is just one of many political events centered in Iowa. It's a state candidates and political operatives target early because of its election year caucuses.

However, during the weekend coalition, it's all about raising money. Political experts said Lee' s invitation to speak at the event is a sign his "political star" is bright among tea party conservatives — they want to get to know him as a possible movement leader. That's a role that may or may not appeal to Utah voters.

"He would potentially risk endearing himself to that group nationally, but not endearing himself to people in Utah," said Kirk Jowers of the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Lee, along with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, was instrumental in orchestrating the Obamacare protest that led to the recent government shutdown. Many politicians said his actions "ruffled a lot of feathers" in Washington. While some conservatives see that as a positive movement, democrats and other republicans don't.

Outspoken Florida Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said Lee's tea party credentials come at the expense of less conservative Republicans.

"Mike Lee has been one of the generals of that civil war, but it's not boding well for his party's success in elections," Wasserman Shultz said.

Lee has been unwavering in his convictions to ultra conservative principals, and he is expected to stick to that policy when he addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition Saturday.

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