Utah’s 4th Congressional District is a battleground for national Democrats and Republicans. The incumbent, Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams, won the seat by just 0.2% in 2018, and his seat has become a high priority for national Republicans to flip.
Four Republican candidates are vying for the chance to go head-to-head against McAdams in November.
Businessman Trent Christensen is one of them. Like most other candidates in the race, he has never held political office. He’s spent his career in the private sector as a lawyer, a vice president of community development for a Utah banking company and now CEO of a venture capital company. Christsensen argued that’s what would make him effective in Congress.
“The people that are going to be in Congress had better have a really good grasp on economics,” Christensen said. “Taxation policy, regulatory policy, free trade policy, spending policy — so they can plug in day one and make a positive impact and support the president.”
Christensen isn’t a total stranger to politics though. He worked as a fundraiser for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.
“There's also this component: you're gonna have to raise some money,” Christensen said. “Ben's got — that we know of — $2.2 million in the bank ... Fundraising is about relationships and I have a network that goes back to my days of working on the Romney team that is still very active.”
Christensen said he wasn’t planning on running for Congress this year until Utah Sen. Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, dropped out of the race in December.
“I looked around the race and I didn't see anyone with an equivalent background,” Christensen said. “I didn't see anyone that has been in the economy that has created jobs. And so I said, ‘You know, that point of view has to be represented.’”
If he makes it to D.C., Christensen said one of his top priorities would be economic recovery from COVID-19 and pushing states to re-open.
“I'd like to say, ‘Hey, we're going to do one last round of bailouts,’” Christensen said. “We're going to do it for individuals. We’re gonna do it for businesses and employees. But it is only available to you if your doors are 100% open for business — no restrictions — on June 15 of this year. And if you're not, then you don't get the money.”
Christensen said he would also support Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare in order to lower health care costs.
“I believe that there's a lot that the free market can do to lower costs,” he said. “If there's competition in a system, you'll always see costs go down. I think there needs to be better transparency in the system.”
A recent poll by UtahPolicy.com and KUTV put Christensen in last place, with 13% of registered Republican likely voters saying they would vote for him.
The Republican primary is June 30 and will be conducted almost entirely by mail. The voter registration deadline is June 19.
To learn more about Christensen’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