Utah GOP and Debate Commission weigh in on debate concerns

May 11, 2022, 6:29 PM
Utah GOP debates...
Kerry Gibson, Blake Moore, Bob Stephenson, and Katie Witt participate during the 1st Congressional District Republican debate at the PBS Utah studios in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Photo credit: Rick Egan

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Debate Commission and the Utah GOP leaders are speaking out about Republican involvement in future primary election debates. 

Utah Republican Party Chair Carson Jorgenson released a statement late Tuesday night. He encouraged Utah GOP candidates to withhold confirming their participation in debates. 

“Debates are critical to the democratic process,” Jorgenson said in the statement. “ However, the only primary races for our Congressional Delegation and U.S. Senate race this year will take place with Republicans. It is important that Republicans–and only Republicans–lead out in deciding how the debates will take shape.” 

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“We want somebody who believes in the Republican Party and somebody who supports the Republican party and actually likes Republicans to be moderating a Republican Party debate,” Jorgenson told KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic

The Utah Debate Commission responded with a statement saying that they are committed to providing nonpartisan and independent debates. 

Co-chair Wayne Niederhauser told KSL NewsRadio that the commission is made up of civic leaders, media, and university partners. 

“The objective was to create objective, professional, independent, fair and transparent debates as a public service, to inform the public who vote,” Niederhauser said. “And they’ve been well received over the years.” 

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Niederhauser said you just have to look at past debates to see that they’ve accomplished that. 

 “And it’s hard to argue I think that they weren’t fair, professional, transparent and independent,” Niederhauser said. “And that’s our purpose, and that’s what we work toward.” 

Niederhauser said he’d be concerned for the sake of the public if any Republicans choose not to participate. But the commission is planning on moving forward with debates like they have in the past. 

Here are the dates for upcoming debates: 

  • June 1: GOP U.S. House Districts 2, 3, and 4 in Salt Lake City
  • June 2: GOP U.S. House District 1 and GOP U.S. Senate in Salt Lake City

The 2022 general election debate schedule:  

  • October 4:  U.S. Senate at Utah Valley University  
  • October 6:  U.S. House of Representatives District 3 at Brigham Young University
  • October 10:  U.S. House of Representatives District 1 at Weber State University
  • October 12:  U.S. House of Representatives District 4 at University of Utah

·  October 14:  U.S. House of Representatives District 2 at Southern Utah University

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Utah GOP and Debate Commission weigh in on debate concerns