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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A former Utah state lawmaker launched a campaign Thursday to challenge Republican Sen. Mike Lee for his U.S. Senate seat next year.

Becky Edwards, who served in the Utah House of Representatives from 2009 to 2018, is the first candidate to formally announce she will challenge Lee in the 2022 election.

Edwards built a reputation as a moderate in the conservative Utah Legislature, which she says she intends to continue in Congress. She also joined a group of other women with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the 2020 presidential race who urged voters to defeat President Donald Trump.

"Like most Utahns, I've watched as politics have become divisive and dysfunctional," Edwards said in a statement. "Things need to change. It's time we have a leader in Washington who will stop bickering, and just put the people of Utah first."

Edwards graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in home economics. She also received a master's degree in marriage and family therapy and has worked as a therapist.

Lee, a two-term incumbent, unseated longtime Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010 as part of a wave of victories by tea party-backed candidates that year. Lee easily won re-election in 2016 by defeating Democratic political newcomer Misty Snow.

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