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Politics & Government
Election news from across Utah's statewide and national races in 2020.

Candidates For 2nd Congressional District Debate Discuss Health Care, Climate Change And COVID-19

2nd District Debate
Rick Egan/ Salt Lake Tribune
The Salt Lake Tribune
Candidates meet for a 2nd Congressional District debate between J. Robert Latham (L), Chris Stewart (R) and Kael Weston (D), at KSL Studio in Salt Lake City, on Monday, October 19, 2020

On Monday night, three candidates for Utah's 2nd Congressional District had what will likely be their only debate before the November election.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-UT, Democrat Kael Weston and Libertarian Robert Latham discussed climate change, health care and the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Latham is the only third party candidate to qualify for a debate. He said the government shouldn’t play any role in the pandemic response and said health care providers in a “free society” would have set up testing for the virus sooner. Latham argues that government administrations, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, got in the way.

“This is an example of what we call regime uncertainty, when a state interferes with our ability to make informed decisions, keeping us in the dark and then marginalize us for not seeing the light,” he said.

Meanwhile, Stewart said it wasn’t perfect but defended President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, including a ban of people traveling from China and a push to speed up the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

“I think that we’re on a pathway now that we can look back and say thank heaven that we’ve been able to take the steps that the president did take in order to protect as many people as he could,” Stewart said.

Weston pushed back on both Latham and Stewart, citing the rise in COVID-19 cases in Utah. He said the federal government has an important role in the pandemic, and that Trump has botched it by not taking the virus seriously.

“I wholeheartedly believe we need to do a lot better, so that no one dies who doesn’t need to die and no one gets infected who doesn’t need to get infected,” Weston said.

Weston and Latham are looking to unseat Stewart, who has represented Utah’s 2nd congressional district since 2013.

Early voting in the state starts Tuesday and the voter registration deadline is Friday.

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