The race to unseat Sen. Mike Lee is heating up, with his two Republican challengers exchanging words over who has the best chance to win the GOP primary in June.

In an interview with KUTV on Wednesday, Ally Isom said Becky Edwards should drop out of the race, painting herself as the party’s best option to defeat Utah’s sitting senator.

Senate candidate Becky Edwards speaks to delegates during the GOP State Convention at the Mountain America Exposition Center in Sandy on Saturday, April 23, 2022. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

“Yes, I’m calling for Becky Edwards to drop out of the race. Pragmatically, if we want a new senator, strategically, I am the only viable conservative alternative,” Isom said.

When asked how soon Edwards should leave the race, Isom replied, “The sooner the better.”

“I’m in this race for the long haul,” Isom said, making it clear she has no plans to leave the race herself.

Edwards responded on Thursday, seemingly comparing Isom to Lee in a tweet that read: “Public statements without proven performance is precisely why I’m in the race against Sen. Mike Lee.”

“Since announcing my formal candidacy, I have continued to be the leading Republican challenger in this race,” Edwards said, touting her political experience, polling, fundraising and social media following.

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A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll last month showed that Edwards leads Isom 19% to 4% among those who plan on voting in the upcoming primary. Lee still stands out among the primary field, with 67% of respondents saying they would vote for him.

Lee also received broad support during the Utah Republican Party state convention last week, winning the party’s nomination with nearly 71% of the 3,690 delegates voting in his favor. Edwards came in second with 12%, followed by Isom with 10%.

The convention crowd is small and not thought to be representative of the primary electorate at large. Isom and Edwards are both running as more moderate to Lee and have received support from some Democrats and independents. Both qualified for the June 28 Republican primary by gathering signatures.

The Utah Debate Commission will host all three candidates for a primary debate on June 2.

Whoever wins the primary will go on to face independent candidate Evan McMullin, who was backed by the Utah Democratic Party when the party delegates took the unusual step to forego nominating a candidate of their own.

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