2nd Congressional District candidate Bruce Hough in 8 questions

Aug 25, 2023, 5:00 AM | Updated: Aug 27, 2023, 8:28 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — Businessman Bruce Hough made the Republican primary ballot back in July, and on Sept. 5, he’ll find out if he gets to stay on the ballot until November. 

KSL NewsRadio caught up with Hough to ask eight burning questions asked of all the candidates on the ballot. A transcript of their full interview follows.

Bruce Hough’s stance on military

Kira Hoffelmeyer: Speaking of Rep. Stewart, he’s leaving us as the only military veteran in Utah’s delegation. And no one working to replace him, that I know of, is a military veteran. So what do you think are the interests of Utah’s military bases that you think need protecting?

Bruce Hough: Well, first of all, thank you for that question. Because I am a huge proponent of a strong national defense and a strong military.

I was a member of the Civil Air Patrol growing up, and my father is a World War Two veteran, my brother was in the Navy and my uncle flew in Vietnam.

The military is extremely important in my family and to me. I’m an honorary commander of the 380th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base. I’m looking at what they need, always because they are the tip of the spear for the United States, anywhere in the world.

And, you know, we need more funding in (Utah’s) west desert for further training, for example. There’s lots of things that we need to do.

The military needs to be rebuilt right now, we have taken it from the low 5% of GDP down to less than 3.5% of GDP. And we’re in conflicts around the world.

But more importantly, we just need to be prepared for something that we hope never happens — that(‘s) possible conflict with China. That’s our greatest military threat right now.

Bruce Hough’s stance on public lands

Kira Hoffelmeyer: A big issue for most of Utah’s congressional districts, and certainly the 2nd Congressional District, would be public lands. And obviously, state and federal interests compete here in Utah for a lot of our public lands. How would you work with the feds to ensure Utah’s best interests when it comes to public lands?

Bruce Hough: Well, first of all, we have to make sure when it comes to public lands, when you have a state that is 70% federally controlled, we have to figure out ways to work with the federal government on that.

But the first thing we do is we start with not allowing the bureaucracies and the regulatory agencies — we just can’t allow them to overreach their statutory scope, what they’re allowed to do.

But we have a good example right now, with the BLM, attempting to enter into conservation leases, on lands that would be traditionally used for grazing and farming, and even extraction.

It’s a very bad idea to allow them to just run amok. The Congress needs to take responsibility for making sure that the regulatory agencies don’t overreach. So that’s number one, regulatory overreach.

Number two is we need to figure out the patchwork of lands, you know, we have. These are school trust lands, or they were intended to benefit education in our state. We don’t have access to much of it, because it’s a patchwork.

We need to figure out ways to work with private and with the federal government to consolidate lands in a way that we actually derive significant benefit from it. And we need to probably adjust some of the PILT funding as well, to make sure that our counties are properly compensated … for the land that is not accessible and is not able to be used and exploited properly.

When I say exploit, I mean it in a positive way. You know, whether it’s recreation extraction, hunting, fishing, you know, agriculture, we need to be able to use it. And when we use it properly, and we’re good stewards, then it’s regenerative.

When we lock it up, it actually becomes a high risk to our state. That becomes basically a fire risk. If we don’t use regenerative agriculture, where we don’t do thinning of forests, we don’t do things that actually protect humankind and the beauties that nature really provides us.

Bruce Hough and the shutdown showdown

Kira Hoffelmeyer: If you’re elected and you enter Congress, you’re going to enter right in time for essentially what we call a “shutdown showdown” around here. What do you have to say about the state of the economy, inflation spending, all that jazz?

Bruce Hough: Well, look, people ask a lot of times, ‘Why am I in this race?’ And I answer it kind of simply, it sounds maybe a little fabricated, but it actually is the organic reason that I decided to run and it is that I have 10 children, 22 grandchildren … and there’s a $32 trillion debt.

It is completely unsustainable.

It’s putting at risk the promise of America for my grandchildren. And I don’t want to see that for my grandchildren, or for anyone’s grandchildren or children. And so we have to get spending under control.

It’s hard. I mean, for example, we’ve brought earmarks. What a stupid idea.

We got rid of them, and now we brought them back.

And I know people love it, who’re in those districts. But it’s the wrong thing to do because it leads to corruption. It leads to graft, it leads to influence that’s undue in our Congress.

Doing earmarks is exactly the wrong way to be doing business in Congress. So we need to get rid of those again.

But look, we spent too much, which means we deficit spend every year. We collected $5 trillion, and we spent $6.5 trillion dollars last year.

That’s not sustainable.

You can’t do it. I can’t do it in my own personal life. And even if I was able to do it for a year or two, my debt would get so large, there be no way for me to pay it back or for you. And that’s where we are as a country.

So the good news is, we have a country, an economy that does have the ability to grow. When it’s properly managed.

Right now with inflation and with Bidenomics, they’ve about destroyed all the gains we’ve made over the last, you know, couple of years before Biden became president.

And we need to get back to a much more conservative approach to spending as well. By the way, Republicans are as guilty as Democrats in spending. I’m not saying that any one party is exclusively to blame.

But as Americans, we have a duty to look to our future for our children, and we’re not doing it.

So we do have to, we have to slow the ship down. Look, if we, if we could slow spending to an increase of 1% a year, we’re gonna drop the debt very consistently. I’m not even saying stop the ship moving forward.

I’m just saying, just creep it forward — 1% of the 4% automatic that we do right now — it’s automatic.

And then what do the Democrats say … oh, if I, if I say we’re only gonna grow at 1%, they’re gonna say, ‘You’ve cut, you know, our ability to serve by 3%.’

Now, we haven’t cut anything, we just slowed growth down.

So we have the ability to do those things. It just takes a little bit of willpower. And it just takes the people to send the right people to Congress to get it done.

Bruce Hough on where Congress and SCOTUS meet

Kira Hoffelmeyer: Speaking of the role of Congress, the Supreme Court has handed down decisions on a lot of divisive things lately. You know, abortion, affirmative action — not necessarily asking you about stance — but what do you see Congress, and its role in these decisions that are coming down that are affecting everyday, Americans on both sides? All sides everywhere?

Bruce Hough: Well, first of all, let me just say that, in my lifetime, did I ever think I would see some of these decisions handed down I really didn’t. I’m in honest favor.

But look, here’s the thing. These decisions made by the Supreme Court, most of which I support, and I think were rightly decided, and had more to do with constitutional issues, not whether you are pro-abortion or pro-life… they had more to do with that it’s not a constitutional right, it’s actually a state’s power to govern those issues.

It was wrongly decided in Roe v. Wade, it was rightly decided in the latest case, but here’s the thing, votes have consequences.

You know, one of my opponents voted for Joe Biden and voted for Barack Obama, and the court would look very different if they were in power during the time when those vacancies came about.

My other opponent did not even vote for the president of the United States in the last election, let alone the Republican candidate.

And as a consequence, you know, if people don’t actually show up and vote, you end up with people like Biden, who would completely change the court in the opposite direction.

So, look, voting is a privilege. Voting is a duty, I think, and I’ve mentioned that I have people in my family who have been in the military fought for the right for us to vote. And we need to vote for the right people so that those kinds of decisions can be made by appointees in a court system, for example, to be able to do that.

As it relates to Congress’s role in that Congress clearly has a role in not legislating on things that should be left to the states, their responsibility is to really work exclusively on their constitutional legislative powers. National defense is a very good example. That’s a critical one.

But if it doesn’t fit in the Constitution as a federal power, then push it back to the states, including pushing funding from, say, the Department of Education.

Maybe we don’t have enough votes in the Senate to get rid of the Department of Education. But we can legislate more block grants to the states that are unrestricted, to allow states to actually make those decisions on a local basis. So the parents can make decisions on where and how their kids are educated.

Bruce Hough on running for re-election

Kira Hoffelmeyer: Speaking of votes and making choices, if you’re elected, you’ll enter office and basically have to file in January to rerun just based on the —

Bruce Hough: Is that true? Well, then forget it!

Hoffelmeyer: Yeah. So like, how do you feel about that?

Hough: Really?

Hoffelmeyer: How do you feel about that?

Hough: Well, I would really like it if the state legislature would provide a provision that said, “Hey, look, you’ve gathered signatures just within the last six months, and so they should be valid for the next election.’

Now, that would be number one.

You know, gathering signatures is not a great way to enter into the political scheme. It’s not a way to open it up to more people who are able to enter the political scheme. We want it to be more open to people not more restrictive.

But we are dealt the hand that we have, and we’re dealing with it and working to make that work.

Look, I’ve won five statewide elections at conventions as the chairman of the party twice and as National Committeeman three times. But it’s a difficult system on a timetable like we had on this one, almost impossible.

I mean, literally 10 days to prepare for a convention and less than 60 days to a primary. I mean, this is very truncated. And so it’s become it’s very expensive, and it’s very difficult.

And yeah, I’m looking forward to it just a regular season of campaigning rather than having to do it all in 60 days.

Bruce Hough on some silly questions

Kira Hoffelmeyer: Okay Bruce, Utah or BYU.

Bruce Hough: Here’s, okay, I’m not avoiding the question on Utah orBYU, but I have — I mentioned that 10 children. I’ve had a child attend and graduate from every university in the state.

Hoffelmeyer: That’s awesome.

Hough: So what am I gonna say? It’s one of those things where you kind of go. ‘I love them all! I’m rooting for the home team.’

When they played — and they don’t play against each other that often so you know, I have it pretty easy.

Hoffelmeyer: You win either way.

Hough: Exactly.

Hoffelmeyer: All right, Bruce, so are they sun bears or are they humans in costume?

Hough: First of all, people have too much time if they’re worrying about issues like this on social media. It’s one of the reasons I’m not on social media that much because this is just a waste of time.

I kind of think it’s a real thing. I think that when it gets when the bear gets down, unless there was an edit that, you know, there are some unique species out there.

They look a little different. And it’s, it could be very real. Yeah.

But it could be fake news. It could be AI, it could be any variety of things. And here’s the real answer: I don’t care.

Hoffelmeyer: If the FBI was running a background check a security check for clearance or something … what is the one thing that would be, like, the thing you would be embarrassed or feel silly about addressing?

Hoffelmeyer: Well, first of all, you just asked me to out myself and the FBI is monitoring this, I’m sure, because it seems to be monitoring a lot of innocent people right now, unfortunately.

What would be embarrassing? Boy, you know, there are so many embarrassing moments in my life it would be almost incomprehensible to list them all. I don’t know if … can you think of anything embarrassing?

Hoffelmeyer: No secret obsession with Zack Bryan or something? Just trying to think of any guilty pleasure you have —

Hough: — a guilty pleasure. Okay, I did, yeah Crown Burger. Yeah. That would be definitely a guilty pleasure, Crown Burger.

I just can’t think — isn’t that terrible, I just like … shouldn’t I have some dark secret I should be able to disclose? Boy, if you have to think hard about it, I guess that’s not a bad thing. Boy, let me think … I’m just trying to say, I mean, look, I’ve I was lost on the Pacific Crest Trail and didn’t know it. That was embarrassing.

Hoffelmeyer: What happened?

Hough: Well, you know, this just happened last August. We were doing Section J of the PCT. We were doing 16,000 feet of elevation, 70 miles, 50-pound packs in four days. And yeah, I love the outdoors. It’s so much fun.

But here’s the thing. Everybody’s like 25 years younger than me. I don’t want to be the guy that’s holding anybody back. So I’m trying to be very careful, just be slow and steady. Just do your thing, just head down, keep going.

And somehow, we kind of got separated. And I’m following a path that looks like it’s the trail. And, I recognize the physical area, I can see there’s a ridge there. And on the other side of the range is where we’re going to camp the next night. So I just proceed on that trail. It’s a good trail, and I get up to the top, and I see down where we’re going to go. This is a great! The people ahead of me, there’s people behind me.

So I go down the trail, and I actually see somebody off in the distance. I kind of yell at them, but they can’t hear me and I go to the campsite, and I’m waiting there and nobody’s there, and I’m thinking, they had to be in front of me.

And finally, somebody comes up and says, ‘Bruce! You’re here! You’re lost!’ I go, ‘I am?! I think I’m at the campsite.’

But they were looking for me because the people behind me didn’t find me as they were getting closer and closer, and they thought, ‘What happened to Bruce?’

So I felt really badly about it, especially because it was the end of the day and people were tired and they were looking for me on some very steep terrain, and it was getting dark. So I was pretty embarrassed by that. And for a guy who does a lot of outdoor work that was sort of an unforgivable right to lose contact with your party.

This is part of a collection of questions asked to all candidates running in the 2nd Congressional District special election before the Sept. 5, 2023, primary election. See below for the interviews of the other candidates.

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2nd Congressional District candidate Bruce Hough in 8 questions