4th Congressional District candidates square off Monday in their only debate

Republican Burgess Owens, a former NFL player, left, and Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, who are running for McAdams’ seat in the 4th Congressional District.

Republican Burgess Owens, a former NFL player, left, and Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, are running for McAdams’ seat in the 4th Congressional District. | Kristin Murphy and Colter Peterson, Deseret News

Rep. Ben McAdams, Burgess Owens participating in hourlong debate

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s only Democrat in Congress, Rep. Ben McAdams, and Burgess Owens, his Republican challenger in one of the country’s most competitive congressional races, will meet on the debate stage Monday evening for the first — and last — time before the election.

“This is likely to be the closest race in Utah this year, so it’s a debate worth following,” said Chris Karpowitz, co-director of the Brigham Young University Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. “I will be watching for how the two candidates define themselves and each other.”

The 4th Congressional District candidates will be questioned by Deseret News Editor Doug Wilks in the hourlong Utah Debate Commission debate that begins at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast by local TV stations, including KSL-TV, and livestreamed on deseret.com.

The race between McAdams and Owens, a former NFL player, author and frequent Fox News guest, has been rated a “toss-up” since August by the Cook Report, an independent and nonpartisan online publication based in Washington, D.C., that analyzes key political races around the country.

The 4th District, which includes portions of Salt Lake and Utah counties, has been a battleground since Utah gained the additional seat a decade ago. In 2018, McAdams, then the Salt Lake County mayor, defeated two-term Republican Rep. Mia Love by less than 700 votes.

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Money has poured into Utah from Republican and Democratic groups for largely negative TV commercials, and both candidates are also on the airwaves. McAdams reported a significant financial advantage in the most recent Federal Election Commission disclosure, with more than $2.6 million to less than $93,000 for Owens as of June 30.

Before getting on the November ballot, Owens had to win a hard-fought primary in June against three opponents, state Rep. Kim Coleman, former KSL Newsradio host Jay Mcfarland and nonprofit CEO Trent Christensen. Since then, he has held fundraisers with big names in the GOP, including Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son.

McAdams and Owens have participated in a candidate forum sponsored by the Salt Lake Chamber and are scheduled to do the same at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics Wednesday. Monday’s debate, however, will be the only one between the candidates.

Karpowitz said he expects McAdams to “emphasize his moderate positions on many issues” while portraying Owens as “too extreme and too supportive” of President Donald Trump and pointing out they have disagreed on the president’s proposal to resume nuclear weapons testing.

Owens is likely to focus on “his conservatism and his compelling life story,” as a Black man who grew up in the segregated South, Karpowitz said. “I expect that his experience as a commentator on Fox News will be helpful preparation for the debate, too.”

McAdams said in a statement that he looks “forward …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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