2020 Election: Utah's 3rd Congressional District race — candidates, key issues and debates

Utah's 3rd Congressional District candidates Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, and Democrat Devin Thorpe participate in a debate at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City, Oct. 15, 2020.

(Leah Hogsten)



Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. John Curtis is vying for reelection in Utah's 3rd Congressional District. The incumbent Republican congressman is being challenged by Democratic nominee Devin Thorpe, Daniel Clyde Cummings of the Constitutional Party and Thomas G. McNeil of the Utah United Party.

Curtis, who was once a prominent member of the Utah Democratic Party, won a special election to replace Jason Chaffetz in Nov. 2017 and was reelected the next year for his first full term. He was previously the mayor of Provo from 2010 to 2017.

Thorpe had a political conversion the other way — turning Democrat after being a Republican. The Provo native is a best-selling author for his financial planning books and has been a regular contributor to Forbes.

The field

  • Rep. John Curtis, incumbent congressman (Republican Party)
  • Devin Thorpe (Democratic Party)
  • Daniel Clyde Cummings (Constitutional Party)
  • Thomas G. McNeill (Utah United Party)

The polls

  • Curtis is the heavy favorite with a September poll having the incumbent congressman leading Thorpe by 31 points, 51% to 20%. McNeil polled at 3% and Cummings at 2%.

The latest

The issues

Health care

In the single debate between Thorpe and Curtis, the two sparred over health care. Curtis said there would be no repeal of the Affordable Care Act until a plan is ready to replace, something congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump have yet to produce. But Curtis assured any plan would ensure that preexisting conditions are covered — a hot button issue this election cycle.

"I don't know a Republican, including the president of the United States, who has any intention of killing preexisting conditions," Curtis said. "Let's face it. Democrats won on this one."

Curtis: "Although the U.S. has long been a global leader in medical research and innovation, the reality is that our nation’s health care system is broken. For far too long, the Federal government’s involvement and burdensome regulations have distorted the health insurance market. With health care costs running out of control, Utah’s families are struggling to afford everything from prescription medicine to their monthly insurance premiums. Although we have a lot of work to do, I believe that innovation and free-market principles can improve our health care system."

Thorpe: "Everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care. While we have some of the best doctors and facilities in the world, our health care system is sick: insurance is too expensive or covers too little. Americans should not continue to die or go bankrupt simply because they cannot afford decent medical care. Nor should Americans have to ration their life-saving medication because the drugs are too expensive or not covered."

Climate change

Climate change was another issue broached during the debate last week. And while both of the candidates’ stances on the issue are relatively close — with both saying that more needs to be done to provide cleaner air for the future generations — Thorpe questioned whether Curtis’s voting record on the issues truly reflected his support for a better climate. Curtis responded by stating the environmental legislation he didn't back was drafted without GOP involvement to make a statement. Curtis has said that was one of only two GOP members who attended a bipartisan conference on climate change.

Curtis: "Can we all agree that less pollution is better than more, less carbon in the air is better, less plastic in the ocean is better? Do you want to leave the Earth better than you found it? I believe you do.

"As a conservative, I regret that we have let ourselves be branded as to not caring about the Earth."

Thorpe: "Climate change presents a unique opportunity: to create millions of jobs in clean energy, infrastructure, and manufacturing. We should face this challenge boldly, harnessing Utah’s innovation and creativity to transform the economy and our communities."

Public lands

Curtis: "With nearly 60% of Utah’s lands managed by the federal government, I am fighting hard as a member of the House Natural Resources Committee to ensure that our rural counties have the economic development and resources they need to prosper. Our district is home to some of the most iconic and scenic places. Our National Parks and recreation areas are an important component of Utah’s thriving economy, and I am committed to protecting and preserving our natural treasures for many generations to come."

Thorpe: "I believe we can balance land protection, tourism and local economics. Over 66% of Utah is public land. Through thoughtful solutions, we can create public land policy that will enable us to live, work, and recreate on our land, all while protecting our beautiful landscapes for future generations. We can also protect the land that is sacred to the native tribes that were here long before our country’s formation."

Economy and opportunity

Curtis: "From Sandy to San Juan County and the communities in between, helping to create economic opportunity and high-paying jobs in the district is one of my highest priorities. As a former small businessman, I understand the difficulties Utah families can experience when it comes to making ends meet, and I’m here to help. Congress passed a historic tax reform bill to help hardworking Americans keep more of their paychecks."

Thorpe: "People should not have to work harder for less. Big money and lobbyists have created an intricate web of tax policy and corporate welfare that increasingly benefits the rich. Working together, I believe we can restore the hope of the American dream where you can work hard, earn a decent wage, afford good healthcare, and someday be able to afford a home."

Education

Curtis: “I strongly believe that decisions regarding education should be made at the local level by parents, teachers, and school administrators. The best solutions come from those with the greatest stake in the system — not federal bureaucrats. As your congressman, I am committed to helping improve our education system by empowering the states to play a larger role in developing curriculum and the resources they need to hire and keep the best teachers in the classroom.”

Thorpe: "A college education should mean a path to a better future, not burdening debt for decades to come. The cost of a college education is rising eight times faster than wages. We need to ensure more federal funding for education. We must reform federal student loan structures—the federal government should not be profiteering off student loans."

2020 Election

Increased mail-in voting, COVID-19, and a variety of state-by-state election formats contribute to a unique 2020 election. As a result, it is likely that many close House and Senate races, as well as the presidency, will not be called on Nov. 3. States may also shift in outcome in the days or weeks following the election — an expected change experts have warned about as results are returned. While human error happens, both mail-in and in-person voting have extremely low rates of fraud. The state of Utah has used vote-by-mail since 2012. It has safeguards in place to make sure every ballot it receives is legitimate.

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