The four Republican candidates aiming to represent Utah’s 1st Congressional District met for a debate Tuesday.
The candidates tackled questions on foreign threats, the government’s COVID-19 response and federal deficits. Across the board, they took similar approaches to policy — they want to strengthen America’s position on China, support small businesses and balance the federal budget.
But they stressed that what makes them uniquely qualified is their backgrounds and values.
Kerry Gibson recently stepped down as Utah’s commissioner of agriculture, but he’s also a former state lawmaker. As the only candidate with experience in the Legislature, Gibson said he’s best prepared for a job like reducing the budget.
“What that means is that I’ve been through several of these situations that we will face in Congress,” he said.
Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson has also served as both mayor and a city councilmember for Layton. He said his work in local government will help him bridge the partisan divide.
“We learned how to be a body that complained, that questioned, but when it came to it we went back together,” Stevenson said. “This is the same attitude that has to happen on either side of the aisle.”
Blake Moore said his careers in the foreign service and in business give him the perspective to address the country’s issues.
“I’ve had relevant, private-sector experience that not only helps me solve complex problems, but also earn real policy chops in the work that I've done,” Moore said.
But Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt said she’s the clear conservative in the race. She pointed to her endorsements by anti-abortion groups and said she was inspired to run when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, took office.
“When I saw AOC get elected in 2018,” Witt said, “I was like, how can somebody who is running on socialist principles have a seat in the Congress of the United States?”
Utah’s 1st Congressional District is reliably Republican. There hasn’t been a Democrat in the seat for nearly 40 years, and outgoing Congressman Rob Bishop has served since 2003.
Utah’s primary election is June 30.