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3rd District Candidates Tussle Over Health Care, Partisanship in Debate

Pool Photo
The Salt Lake Tribune
Three candidates want the 3rd Congressional District seat held by former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz: Democrat Kathie Allen, the United Utah Party's Jim Bennett, and Republican John Curtis, the frontrunner. They debated Wednesday. The election is Nov. 7.

With the general election just under three weeks away, candidates in the 3rd Congressional District race faced off in one of their final debates Wednesday.

Only three candidates qualified to appear on stage Wednesday, although there are technically eight candidates running to replace former Congressman Jason Chaffetz in the 3rd District.

Democrat Kathie Allen, Republican John Curtis and the United Utah Party’s Jim Bennett tussled over everything from gun control to tax reform to increased partisanship in Washington.

One area where the candidates couldn’t be more different is health care. Allen is a lifelong physician and supports Medicare for all.

“Health care in this country has become about profit,” she said. “And as long profit is the motive and we’re paying large CEO salaries and we’re failing to address other crucial issues of the health care puzzle, such as access and quality, nothing is going to be solved.”

“But I believe ultimately the way we lower costs and increase competition is by returning back to free market forces,” said Curtis, who favors private insurance. “I’ll take my bet with the free market over a government-imposed program any day.”

Jim Bennett has positioned himself between the major parties. He says neither is capable right now to fix Washington.

“The idea that the Republicans, who have been saying for seven years that they’re going to fix health care, are now just waiting for the system to collapse," he said, "and the Democrats are sitting on the sidelines pretty much doing the same thing, demonstrates to me that the two-party system...cannot solve this problem.”

Curtis has the led in the last few polls, and an upset is seen as unlikely because the 3rd District is one of the most conservative in the country.

Mail-in ballots have been sent out, and in-person voting will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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