Moderator talks about today’s debate with Owens and Democratic rival

Oct 26, 2022, 7:00 AM | Updated: Oct 28, 2022, 1:06 pm
4th district new debate...
Candidates for Utah's 4th Congressional District: Darlene McDonald and Rep. Burgess Owens. (Photos: left, Utah Democrats, right, U.S. House of Representatives)
(Photos: left, Utah Democrats, right, U.S. House of Representatives)

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, did not attend an Oct. 12 debate between two 4th Congressional District candidates because the moderator of the debate was Salt Lake Tribune Executive Editor Lauren Gustus.

He said last year The Tribune published a cartoon comparing him to the Ku Klux Klan.

“I will not, in good conscience, have anything to do with the racist Salt Lake Tribune and will therefore not participate in this debate,” Owens said in a video statement.

Burgess Owens confirms he will not attend (Oct.12) debate

Burgess Owens’ opponents react to him not attending debate

Challengers call Utah Rep. Burgess Owens ‘coward’ for pulling out of debate

Owens says yes to conditional debate

Instead, Owens invited his Democratic challenger Darlene McDonald to find a different time and different moderator to have their debate — with the stipulation from Owens that The Salt Lake Tribune would not be allowed to participate.

McDonald released a statement via Twitter saying her campaign was “uncomfortable” with the exclusion of The Tribune.

“We are uncomfortable with any media being excluded because it gives an opportunity for any or all media in the future to be shut out of a functioning government and thriving democracy,” the McDonald statement reads.

Owens agrees to debate with McDonald in Utah’s Fourth District race on one condition

January Walker, the United Utah Party candidate also running for the 4th District seat, was also excluded from the debate Friday Oct. 28 at 5 p.m., which will be live-streamed via YouTube Live and Facebook Live.

Meet the moderator

James Curry, University of Utah political science professor, will moderate the debate Burgess has agreed to participate in. He joins the show to discuss the debate Friday with KSL NewsRadio’s Debbie Dujanovic and Dave Noriega.

“Despite whatever kerfuffle or disagreements have been had between the campaigns and the Utah Debate Commission, I think, at the end of the day, it’s important that the two candidates get to sit down and debate and talk about the issues,” Curry said.

Curry said he planned to follow the same format as set out by the Utah Debate Commission. 

“I have full autonomy as a moderator to decide what topics we’re going to talk about, what questions are going to be posed to them. It’s going to function just like any other debate,” he said. ” . . . I’m going to be asking them what I think voters in their district need to hear about.”

“Will the media be able to sit in on this debate?” Dujanovic asked. “And what I mean by media is all the media, including the Salt Lake Tribune.”

Curry said he did not know.

“All I know is that we’re going to have a debate. It’s going to be live-streamed and the rest of those details are sort of beyond my purview,” he added.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be carried live anywhere on any sort of media platform or on social media. What do you know about that?” Dujanovic asked.

“I was told they’re gonna live stream it on YouTube, Facebook, various other sorts of online avenues like that. My understanding is it’s not going to be televised,” Curry said.

Election Day is Nov. 8.



Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Moderator talks about today’s debate with Owens and Democratic rival