Owens and challenger debate Jan. 6 attack on US Capitol

Oct 31, 2022, 7:00 PM | Updated: Feb 23, 2023, 1:13 pm
capitol riot Thomas Webster Jan 6...
FILE - This still frame from Metropolitan Police Department body worn camera video shows Thomas Webster, in red jacket, at a barricade line at on the west front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. Jurors have returned to court to deliberate in the federal trial of a New York Police Department veteran charged with assaulting an officer who tried to protect the Capitol from an attacking insurrectionist mob last year. Retired NYPD officer Thomas Webster is the first Capitol riot defendant to be tried on an assault charge and the first to present a jury with a self-defense argument. (Metropolitan Police Department via AP, File)
(Metropolitan Police Department via AP, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Republican Rep. Burgess Owens and Democratic challenger Darlene McDonald went head-to-head during their only debate on Friday night.

Moderated by James Curry, a University of Utah political science professor, the hour and 22-minute debate, was fairly calm until the topic of the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol came up near the end of the debate.

Owens 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.

Jan. 6 background

Hours after armed insurgents stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Congress voted on objections to certifying the presidential election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Here’s how Utah’s members of Congress voted:

Both of Utah’s US senators, Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, voted no against the objections in both states as did Reps. Blake Moore and John Curtis. Republican Reps. Burgess Owens and Chris Stewart voted against the objection to Arizona’s results. But early Thursday morning (Jan. 7), they voted in support of the objection to Pennsylvania’s results.

Owens and McDonald debate Jan. 6

Owens said he voted against certifying the presidential vote in Pennsylvania on Jan. 6, 2021, because elections in that state are dishonest.

“I happen to have a reason that I voted against Pennsylvania because I lived in Philadelphia for 25 years and they cheat,” Owens said, “and everybody who lives there knows they cheat.

“For those who have now looked at that as stopping the electoral process, they’re not sure of their history because Democrats have done it every single election that the Republicans have won, every single one, yet now they are trying to turn the tables on us,” he said.

McDonald pointed out Owens voted not to certify the presidential votes from Pennsylvania after the attack on the US Capitol in which five people died.

How Many Died as a Result of Capitol Riot?

“You voted to not certify the votes from a state of which you do not even live,” McDonald said. “You tried to tell the people of Pennsylvania that their vote does not matter.”

Owens said he is proud of the vote he took to object to the Pennsylvania presidential election results.

“I also understand the idea that if I find something wrong as a representative of any state in this union, I’m gonna stand up for it,” he responded.

“What the Founding Fathers fought for [during] the American Revolution, you just flushed it down the toilet with that vote on January 6th because — don’t interrupt me, I am not done — when you made that vote on January — it’s not funny. I’m sorry. It’s not. It’s not funny because I take this very seriously,” McDonald said.

“No, because you had John Lewis walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. You had Medgar Evers. You had Rosa Parks. ” McDonald said. “You had so many people who fought for, who died for us to be able to vote and to be able to uphold the American democracy. It is incumbent upon all of us to make sure that it continues, and what you did on January 6th says it does not matter. It matters.”

George Floyd protests and law enforcement

Owens then referred to the nationwide George Floyd protests during summer 2020.

“I wonder where Darlene and her party was the two years in which we had $1 to $2 billion in damage because of political violence. You had 26 American–”

“That’s a lie … That’s not what it was, but I will let you finish. I need to have a rebuttal after,” McDonald interjected.

Fact-checking claim about deaths, damage from Black Lives Matter protests

“Twenty-six Americans we’re actually murdered during that period of time. You have Black, particularly minority businesses, being burned to the ground, some have never recovered,” Owens said. “We had the ‘defund the police’ in which 60,000 police were not only hurt, 20,000 seriously. [Now] we have this idea now that it’s okay to assassinate our police.”

“We have had in the last two years an attack on our American way,” Owens said. ” . . . We’re now getting to a point where we’re done with it. We’re ready to move forward and get everything taken care of.”

McDonald is a member of the Salt Lake City Racial Equity In Policing Commission.

“I worked side by side with law enforcement to find solutions so that what happened in the summer of 2020 would never happen again,” she responded.

McDonald added that communities of color want to feel safe, just like everyone else.

“I can’t claim to speak for everyone. But for the people that I know, we stand with law enforcement, and we always will. I have law enforcement in my family. I want them to make it home.”


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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Owens and challenger debate Jan. 6 attack on US Capitol