Eight GOP congressional candidates running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Jason Chaffetz squared off in one of the few forums before their party's nominating convention this weekend.
Voters and delegates attending asked candidates to weigh in on issues like health care, common core education standards and how closely they aligned with and supported President Trump.
All but one of the candidates said they voted for Trump and said they supported many of his policies — from repealing Obamacare to building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
A frequent theme for candidates like state senator Deidre Henderson was a commitment to federalism and shifting of power toward the states.
“We need to elect people that understand that Washington, D.C. has become far too powerful,” said Henderson.
The forum, hosted by the Utah County Liberty Forum at the Provo Library, was packed by 3rd district delegates who’ll be deciding on their primary nominee this weekend.
Among the candidates present Wednesday were Brad Daw, Chris Herrod, Deidre Henderson, Margaret Dayton, Damian Kidd, Stewart Peay, Debbie Aldrich, and Provo Mayor John Curtis.
Curtis fielded several tough questions from delegates skeptical of his conservative credentials, with at least one accusing him of actively recruiting Democrats to vote for him — a charge he denied.
Curtis is one of only two Republicans who does not have to win the party’s convention this weekend after gathering enough signatures to qualify for the primary ballot. Tanner Ainge is the other GOP candidate to use the petition path.
Karen Lee, a Republican delegate from Pleasant Grove, said she’s not sure who she’ll be voting for yet, but is leaning toward former state lawmaker Chris Herrod or longtime state senator Margaret Dayton.
“I feel that they are very conservative and they are very principled, and that they will stand strong in the face of adversity and make those tough decisions, but I think they are also strongly Republican,” she said after the forum.
While not calling out anyone out by name, she said she hopes other delegates will see through what she described as the "smokescreen" of less conservative candidates.
The Utah GOP’s nominating convention will take place this Saturday at Timpview High School in Provo. The first candidate to reach more than 50 percent of the vote will win the party’s nomination.