2020 election: Utah's 4th Congressional District race — candidates, key issues and debates

Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, and Burgess Owens bump elbows after participating in the 4th Congressional District debate at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.

(Kristin Murphy, KSL, File)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — It's coming down to the wire in Utah's 4th Congressional District, which is expected to be by far the closest of the major races in the state come Election Day.

Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams, after just one term in Congress, is hoping to fend off a stiff challenge from Republican Burgess Owens in a district McAdams won in 2018 by less than 700 votes.

Polls have painted the race as neck and neck and — as Utahns have no doubt noticed while watching TV these past weeks — outside groups are spending big on advertising for their party's candidate. Both the Democrats and Republicans see this as a winnable and important seat.

Will McAdams continue as Utah's blue outlier in a red state? Or can Owens win back the district for the GOP?

The field

The polls

An Oct. 19 poll for the Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute of Politics said McAdams and Owens are virtually tied, with Owens garnering 46% of voter support to McAdams' 45% with a 3.5% margin of error. Libertarian John Molnar had 3% support in that poll, and Jonia Broderick, of the United Utah Party, got 1%.

The latest

On the issues

The coronavirus pandemic

McAdams: "This virus is serious, and we must take it seriously. I believe that Washington has failed us. Congress has failed us. ... I've called on Republicans and Democrats to come together and pass legislation to continue to shore up the foundation of our economy, and to help people who are suffering."

Owens: "We've done a good job of bringing our society back. It is important for us to take personal responsibility. If you allow businesses to really take the lead on this, business owners want to make sure that people come back. They want to make sure that they're coming back to their stores and feel safe. ... We should do it from that level, versus top-down mandates."

Social Justice

McAdams: "We've made incredible progress as we work to make sure everybody in our community is treated fairly and equally under the law, and afforded the dignity that every individual (deserves). But we also have more we can do. The events over the summer have highlighted to me that, while we have made such incredible progress and have so much to be proud of, there is more we can do."

Owens: "Sometimes special interests use good people to move their agenda forward. Black Lives Matter ... in their manifesto — against capitalism, against the nuclear family, and they're against God. ... We don't need an organization the the endgame, the byproduct, is destruction, the loss of more Black lives, more Black businesses, and a division of our country right now that we do not need."

Health Care

McAdams: "Simply saying that you want to protect people with preexisting conditions is not going to protect them. We have to keep the protections in place right now."

Owens: "I'm a cancer survivor. I understand what preexisting conditions are all about. At the end of the day, we have right now, already in place, an executive order by President Trump and the Congress has passed laws that say this will be protected."

Climate change

McAdams: "The solutions to climate change are going to take all of us, Republicans and Democrats coming together to recognize the magnitude of this problem. And then also, work with the private sector to harness the ingenuity and entrepreneurship from the private sector."

Owens: "I would suggest this: Let's put together a 'warp speed' commission. We've seen how it does ... a vaccine that normally takes decades or years to get to, we're doing it in nine months. How about we do the same thing with things like climate change, health care — we could pull together the free market, let them take the lead, and allow the government to support it, versus vice versa."

Election day is Nov. 3.

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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