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GOP Candidates Trumpet Conservative Credentials Ahead Of 3rd District Convention

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Julia Ritchey, KUER
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From left: Deidre Henderson, Damian Kidd, John Curtis, Stewart Peay and Debbie Aldrich attend a forum for GOP candidates running for the 3rd congressional district seat. Brad Daw, Margaret Dayton, and Chris Herrod also attended.

Eight GOP congressional candidates running for the seat being vacated by  Rep. Jason Chaffetz squared off in one of the few forums before their party's nominating convention this weekend. 

Voters and delegates attending asked candidates to weigh in on issues like health care, common core education standards and how closely they aligned with and supported President Trump.

All but one of the candidates said they voted for Trump and said they supported many of his policies — from repealing Obamacare to building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Credit Julia Ritchey, KUER
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State Sen. Deidre Henderson speaks during the Utah County Liberty Forum on June 14.

A frequent theme for candidates like state senator Deidre Henderson was a commitment to federalism and shifting of power toward the states.

“We need to elect people that understand that Washington, D.C. has become far too powerful,” said Henderson.

The forum, hosted by the Utah County Liberty Forum at the Provo Library, was packed by 3rd district delegates who’ll be deciding on their primary nominee this weekend.

Among the candidates present Wednesday were Brad Daw, Chris Herrod, Deidre Henderson, Margaret Dayton, Damian Kidd, Stewart Peay, Debbie Aldrich, and Provo Mayor John Curtis.

Curtis fielded several tough questions from delegates skeptical of his conservative credentials, with at least one accusing him of actively recruiting Democrats to vote for him — a charge he denied.

Curtis is one of only two Republicans who does not have to win the party’s convention this weekend after gathering enough signatures to qualify for the primary ballot. Tanner Ainge is the other GOP candidate to use the petition path. 

Karen Lee, a Republican delegate from Pleasant Grove, said she’s not sure who she’ll be voting for yet, but is leaning toward former state lawmaker Chris Herrod or longtime state senator Margaret Dayton. 

“I feel that they are very conservative and they are very principled, and that they will stand strong in the face of adversity and make those tough decisions, but I think they are also strongly Republican,” she said after the forum. 

While not calling out anyone out by name, she said she hopes other delegates will see through what she described as the "smokescreen" of less conservative candidates.

The Utah GOP’s nominating convention will take place this Saturday at Timpview High School in Provo. The first candidate to reach more than 50 percent of the vote will win the party’s nomination.

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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