Democratic Brian Wonnacott challenged three-term Republican incumbent Jason Chaffetz to a debate Tuesday night at Utah Valley University. Both men are competing to represent Utah’s third congressional district.
Speaking about the recent White House security breach on the watch of the Secret Service, Chaffetz, who sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said there are clearly problems with leadership, training and protocol. Wonnacott stumbled on that topic and struggled to clearly answer a question about the federal government’s handling of the Ebola crisis.
Chaffetz offered up limiting travel and increasing screenings at airports as solutions to keeping Americans safe from the deadly virus.
Wonnacott told KUER he’s clearly more comfortable talking about environmental issues and pointing out the failures of a do-nothing Congress. He criticized Republican efforts to sue the president over allegedly exceeding his constitutional authority by issuing executive orders.
“It’s a waste of the taxpayer’s money,” Wonnacott said. “It’s unproductive. It’s the kind of behavior that speaks for what’s happening in congress today that nothing is happening and everything is just for show.”
Chaffetz voted with his fellow House Republicans to sue President Obama over his alleged abuse of power. The moderator was quick to note the number of executive actions taken by President Obama does not exceed that of past presidents.
The distinction between the two candidates was underscored specifically when it came to energy policy. Chaffetz called global warming—a concept now accepted by many scientists, a “farce”.
“We have to be very cautious of what we put in our air, what we put in our water, but let’s become energy independent,” Chaffetz said. “Let’s pursue natural gas. Let’s pursue our coal and make it cleaner. Let’s pursue nuclear energy.”
Wannocott said he believes strongly in the existence of global warming. He argued the U.S. cannot solve the energy crisis or become energy independent by relying on oil and coal.
Wonnacott currently trails Chaffetz significantly in fundraising, experience and recognition. This was his first political debate.
Chaffetz thanked him for having the “guts” to take part in the debate.