Utah’s 4th Congressional District is a battleground for national Democrats and Republicans. The incumbent, Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams, won by just 0.2% in 2018 and his seat has become a high priority for national Republicans to flip.
Four Republicans are vying to be the nominee to go head-to-head against McAdams in November.
Former KSL radio talk show host Jay “JayMac” Mcfarland hosted for nine years before throwing his hat in the ring to run in this year’s primary race for the 4th Congressional District. Mcfarland said he decided to run because he was fed up with political polarization.
“I think a lot about the government that I'm handing over to my children,” Mcfarland said. “What I'm handing them is a government that doesn't work because we are choosing absolute extremes to send to Congress. And extremes can't work together.”
Mcfarland said his time on the radio gave him the skills to engage with people who had different opinions and to combat that polarization.
“I have this experience that allows me to articulate my viewpoints,” he said. “But do so without name calling and changing hearts and minds along the way.”
Mcfarland is positioning himself as the moderate in the race, but said that’s not because his policy positions are moderate.
“I consider myself a conservative,” Mcfarland said. “What makes me a moderate is I don't think the other side is evil. I think they have every right to fight for the America that they believe in.”
If elected, Mcfarland said one of his top priorities in Congress would be immigration reform. He said his approach balances his ideals — not wanting people to benefit from breaking the law when entering illegally — with practicality.
“Are we really going to try and remove 20 plus million people?” Mcfarland said. “What I'd like to see is for them to step forward and to pay a fine, much like any other American who violate[s] some law.”
Mcfarland supports increased border security and DACA, an Obama-era program that allows people brought to the U.S. illegally as young children to stay in the country.
Another policy priority for Mcfarland is driving down health care costs through transparency in the system.
“One of the ways that I think we can do that is to make it so insurance companies can't pay health [care] providers directly,” he said. “I think they should have to write a check to the consumer and then let the consumer decide how the money is going to be spent.”
A recent poll by UtahPolicy.com and KUTV puts Mcfarland in second place, with 28% of registered Republican likely voters saying they would vote for him.
The primary election is June 30 and will be conducted almost entirely by mail. The voter registration deadline is June 19.
To learn more about Mcfarland’s positions — and to compare them to his opponents — check out KUER’s voter guide.
Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson