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GOP candidates seek to unseat Utah’s sole Democrat Rep. Ben McAdams

Jun 30, 2020, 8:43 PM | Updated: Nov 8, 2022, 11:39 am
Democrat Unseating the only Democrat representing Utah in Congress will be a challenge -- but first, Republicans in Utah's 4th Congressional District will have to choose their candidate. (FILE PHOTO DESERET NEWS)
(FILE PHOTO DESERET NEWS)

SALT LAKE CITY  — Unseating the only Democrat representing Utah in Congress will be a challenge — but first, Republicans in Utah’s 4th Congressional District will have to choose their candidate.

The seat is currently held by Rep. Ben McAdams, who won the position by defeating incumbent Mia Love in 2018 with a margin of fewer than a thousand votes. 

The incumbent Congressman advanced straight to the general election ballot after the party’s state convention April 25, where he received 89.3% majority vote. The GOP candidate that emerges from the Republican primary will face McAdams for the seat in November.

Utah’s 4th Congressional District race in the national spotlight

Races in Utah’s 4th Congressional District have traditionally been decided by narrow margins, and Republican strategists think McAdams’ seat may be vulnerable. Despite differing views among the four GOP candidates, ABC Political Director Rick Klein said any one of them could qualify for big support — and money — from the national Republican party going into the general election. 

“The candidates have been vying […] to basically out-Trump each other and express their loyalties to the national Republican agenda,” Klein said. “Unless something emerges about the eventual nominee I don’t think any of the potential candidates have any particular problems that will stop Republicans from getting involved.”

Klein said regardless of the nominee, he believes Utah’s 4th Congressional District race will be in the national spotlight in November. 

Candidates vying to unseat Rep. McAdams

There are four candidates seeking to unseat incumbent Rep. McAdams in the general election: Kim Coleman, Burgess Owens, Jay McFarland and Trent Christensen. 

Kim Coleman

Only one of the four Republican candidates running has experience in elected office: Kim Coleman. Coleman has represented West Jordan in the Utah House of Representatives since 2015. 

Coleman qualified for the GOP primary at the party’s state convention with 53.9% of the vote. Unlike the other three candidates, Coleman did not qualify via signature-gathering — falling short of the 7,000 signature requirement. 

Coleman told KSL NewsRadio Tuesday she’s proud of the grassroots campaign she ran — especially amid social distancing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’d rather be looking you in the eyes and creating that relationship,” Coleman said. 

Burgess Owens

Burgess Owens, a former NFL player for the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders, also qualified through the state convention when he received 44.9% of delegate votes. However, Owens also qualified via the signature-gathering method. 

The nominee told KSL NewsRadio his main goal is to win the seat in Utah’s 4th Congressional District, tipping the House back into Republican hands. 

“The lynchpin of the nation is getting the House back,” Owens said.

He said regaining the seat is important to instill values back into the fourth district. 

Jay McFarland

Jay McFarland is a political newcomer, qualifying for the June primary through signature-gathering. Before kickstarting his campaign, McFarland was a talk show host on KSL NewsRadio. 

Noting his lack of political experience, McFarland said it is important to bring new ideas and fresh perspective to Congress — saying the House “isn’t getting anything done.”

“If we want to create change, we need something — someone different,” McFarland said.

Trent Christensen

Trent Christensen, also a political newcomer, qualified for the primary election through the signature-gathering method — when he obtained the required 7,000 signatures before the deadline. Christensen is a business owner and says his experience makes him a great candidate for the House of Representatives. 

“We need someone who can govern differently and effectively and that’s me,” Christensen said.

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GOP candidates seek to unseat Utah’s sole Democrat Rep. Ben McAdams