By electing Mike Lee as the Republican nominee for Senate in Utah on Tuesday, voters in the state's open primary may also have picked the man who will ultimately fill GOP incumbent Bob Bennett's long-held seat come November.
Lee will face-off against Democratic candidate Sam Granato in the state's general election. Ratings from the Cook Political Report and CQ suggest the Utah seat is very likely to remain in Republican hands.
Bolstered by support from the Tea Party, Lee has made his "love" and -- as he puts its -- "complete, practical understanding" of the Constitution a cornerstone of his campaign platform. The Republican hopeful touted extremely conservative views on a wide range of issues throughout Utah's Republican primary that mirror many of the policy positions held by Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul.
Lee's hard-lined views on health care reform, immigration and tax-related issues as well as solutions he's offered to drastically reduce the size of federal government -- including eliminating the Departments of Education and Energy -- have even earned him the nickname "the Rand Paul of the West."
The Salt Lake Tribune recently took aim at Lee's political perspectives:
Lee's expertise is his encyclopedic knowledge of the Constitution. But his notions of the founding document are reactionary, so extreme, in fact, that we doubt they will ever find traction in mainstream American legal or political thinking. To do so would require reversing much of the jurisprudence of the 20th century.
The blunt criticism from the Tribune came in an editorial endorsing Lee's former Republican rival, Tim Bridgewater, in the state's primary race.
"To be fair, Bridgewater's policies are almost as radical," said the Tribune. "This is, after all, a contest between hard-right ideologues. But we sense from our discussion with Bridgewater at least a modicum of openness to the spectrum of ideas, a glimmer of a pragmatism. We can't say that of Lee."
Lee's primary win on Tuesday may mark the most significant electoral achievement for the Tea Party movement thus far given the conservative candidate's odds at capturing Utah's Senate seat in November.
Here's a slideshow of various policy views maintained by Utah's newly-minted GOP Senate nominee: