Some of Lee's supporters suspect that Bridgewater was behind the mailer, but Lee won’t say whether or not he believes Bridgewater was involved. “I’ve called for an FEC investigation,” Lee says. “I’ve also called upon Mr. Bridgewater and Sen. Bennett to demand to Tim Stewart that he identify the names of his accomplices.”
Bridgewater’s campaign has repeatedly denied its involvement. “I didn’t even know Tim Stewart until almost two weeks after the convention process,” Bridgewater says. “We actually gave his check back once we learned he had done that mailer.”
This hasn’t stopped the accusations, however. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who supports Lee, has sent an e-mail to members of his Senate Conservatives Fund PAC connecting Stewart with both Bennett’s and Bridgewater’s campaigns.
Bridgewater says voters don’t welcome Sen. DeMint’s entry into Utah politics. “He's put himself in this campaign in a way that is driving voters away from his endorsed candidate and to my campaign, and so I appreciate that,” Bridgewater says.
“Senator DeMint believes that Tim Bridgewater is a good man and trusts he had nothing to do with this smear against Mike Lee,” says Matt Hoskins, a spokesman for DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund. “The Senator hopes all the facts will ultimately come out so those responsible are held accountable and so it never happens again.”
On the issues, both Lee and Bridgewater seem to have few differences now. Both speak about reducing government spending and challenging the status quo in Washington, and both have support from local Tea Party groups. But only one will emerge from Tuesday's primary on track to be Utah's next senator.
Michael Warren, a Collegiate Network fellow, is an editorial assistant at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.