WASHINGTON — Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a Tea Party favorite who saw his poll numbers drop during the partial government shutdown, is urging fellow conservatives to donate "right away" to protect him from the "political elite" who want to drive him from office.
Lee, a conservative firebrand elected in 2010, was among the senators pushing to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. The confrontation over Republican efforts to defund or delay the law led to this month's 16-day partial shutdown.
He has faced a political backlash in his home state, where business leaders are openly discussing recruiting a business-friendly primary challenger. A recent Brigham Young University poll showed his approval rating falling to 40% earlier this month, down from 50% in June.
Lee is not up for re-election until 2016, but in a fundraising appeal sent Thursday, he urged supporters to donate "$25, $35, $50, $100, or whatever you can to my campaign right away."
If the "political elite drive Senators like me out of office," he warned, "we'll never be rid of Obamacare. We'll never make any progress against the big government agenda."
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