Burgess Owens’ opponents react to him not attending debate

Oct 12, 2022, 4:53 PM
Candidates for Utah's Fourth Congressional District. January Walker (left), Darlene McDonald (right...
Candidates for Utah's Fourth Congressional District. January Walker (left), Darlene McDonald (right). (Photos, left to right: , U.S. House of Representatives, Utah Democrats JanuaryforUtah.com)
(Photos, left to right: , U.S. House of Representatives, Utah Democrats JanuaryforUtah.com)

SALT LAKE CITY — Hours after Congress Burgess Owens announced he wouldn’t participate in tonight’s Fourth Congressional District Debate, his opponents are questioning his motives.

Democratic challenger, Darlene McDonald, said she’s dismayed at Owens’ explanation for not coming tonight.

“We’d known at least for several weeks who the moderators were. And if he had objections to the moderator, I don’t know if he voiced them at that time. But he could have also come out a lot earlier to say that he was not going to participate in the debate and also state why,” McDonald told KSL NewsRadio’s Lindsay Aerts. “The fact that he did this on the day of the debate is suspect to me.”

McDonald also told Aerts that she did not think Pat Bagely’s cartoon of Owens was racist, and that Owens should consider using different language in concern to migrants at the southern border. 



Owens invited McDonald to join him during town hall meetings on Oct. 22, and Oct. 29. McDonald says he hasn’t heard from him. 

“He has never reached out to me, that’s the first I have heard of him wanting to debate me it’s the first time I’ve ever even heard him say my name to be honest,” McDonald said about Owens.

Owens’ independent opponent, January Walker of the United Utah Party, told KSL NewsRadio that she suspects Owens’ cognitive abilities are declining and said “his handlers are keeping him in a controlled environment.”

Walker said in a text message statement that a “candidate unwilling to show up to a debate because of a mean cartoon” is not “going to show up for you in Washington when things get tough.”

Walker did not receive the same invitation to debate Owens that McDonald did.

“A Democrat in Utah is not a threat to a Republican incumbent after this year’s gerrymandering but a Moderate with common-ground solutions could overtake the GOP party hold on the state. Owens’s campaign strategy is to not give a voice to the moderate majority of Utah,” Walker said in a text message.

Jessica Lowell contributed to this report. 

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Burgess Owens’ opponents react to him not attending debate