Utah’s 4th Congressional District race is expected to be one of the hottest in the November elections, and the top candidates met Tuesday for their first debate at a Utah Taxpayers Association conference.
Republican Mia Love and Democrat Doug Owens jumped right into their contrasting campaign pitches. They took on red-meat political issues like managing federal lands, abolishing the U.S. Education Department and repealing Obamacare.
But after the debating was done, they pledged to stick to the issues.
“This is not about who I am running against,” said Love, the former mayor of Saratoga Springs in Utah County. “This is about who I’m running for, and I’m running for the people of the fourth district. I’m not going to go out and attack people. I’m going to remain above board. I am going to make sure that I am positive throughout this whole thing.”
Love is taking a second run at the Fourth District seat now held by retiring Congressman Jim Matheson. She jabbed Owens, a lawyer, by thanking him for using her name so often.
Owens, meanwhile, says Love is seeking support from the national tea party, while he represents local values.
“I think the issues speak for themselves,” he said. “We’re just going to bring out the issues. I pledge that I will never misrepresent her record. And there will never be a personal attack on her.”
The audience listened with interest and applauded both candidates.
“I think we are going to see a very robust campaign on both sides,” said Howard Stephenson, president of the taxpayers association and a Republican state senator from Draper. “There are marked differences between the two candidates, and I think today really started to illustrate those differences. So, that’s a good thing for the voters to be able to begin to understand who the candidates really are and what they stand for.”
The candidates sparred on the topics. But they agreed that Washington’s squabbling is causing trouble for everyone else.