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Utah Republican among 9 latest GOP ‘Young Gun’ congressional candidates nationwide

Utah Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert has been named one of nine Republican congressional candidates nationwide who’s “on the radar” of a national program aimed at boosting the GOP’s chances of winning key seats in 2020.
FILE - Sen. Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, speaks at a Recruit Romney press conference in the Capitol rotunda in Salt Lake City on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017.
Deseret News archives

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert has been named one of nine Republican congressional candidates nationwide who’s “on the radar” of a national program aimed at boosting the GOP’s chances of winning key seats in 2020.

“Utah’s 4th Congressional District is a top pickup opportunity for the (National Republican Congressional Committee), and we are excited to have Dan Hemmert qualify for our Young Guns program,” committee spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair said.

Utah’s only Democrat in Congress, Rep. Ben McAdams, won the 4th District race last year by beating two-term Republican Rep. Mia Love by less than 700 votes. His seat has already been rated by The Washington Post as the nation’s most likely to flip from Democrat to Republican in the 2020 election.

The NRCC, which added Hemmert Thursday to its list of the nation’s most competitive GOP congressional candidates targeted the race early on and actively recruited candidates. Love, now a CNN commentator, had said she was ready to run again if she didn’t feel any of the Republicans in the race could beat McAdams.

Hemmert, who announced he was running for Congress last month, is one of several Republicans already in the race but is the only Utah candidate so far to qualify for the national program this cycle. In August, the first round of 43 candidates who met the first tier of program’s fundraising and other criteria were announced.

Sinclair declined to provide specifics about the qualifications for candidates other than saying “you must meet a fundraising threshold, demonstrate your competitiveness and be communicative within your districts.” The amount of money that has to be raised is believed to be around $100,000.

“I appreciate and am grateful for the support that I am getting from my fellow Utahns,” Hemmert said, declining to talk about the national committee’s designation. Just how much he’s raised for his campaign won’t have to be reported until the Federal Election Commission’s next deadline for financial disclosures, Oct. 15.

Neither McAdams nor other Republicans in the race had much to say about Hemmert being tapped as a “Young Gun.”

McAdams, his campaign manager Andrew Roberts said, “believes it’s too early to focus on the campaign. He’s focused on finding bipartisan solutions to issues that matter to Utah families,” including health care and improving air quality.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Caleb Worthen, campaign spokesman for Kathleen Anderson, a former Davis County GOP official who handled communications for the Utah Republican Party when her husband, Rob, served as chairman.

“We’ve seen what happens when Washington, D.C., political operatives try and tell Utah Republicans how to vote. Dan Hemmert is the pick of the out-of-state elites, Kathleen Anderson will be the pick of real Utahns,” Worthen said.

Former KSL Newsradio host Jay Mcfarland, who got in the race in early August, said he had “no comment at this time.”

State Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, said the race is just getting underway.

“I congratulate Dan,” Coleman said. “But it is terribly early. We just started and we feel good about where we are right now. As (the late British leader Winston) Churchill said, ‘This is not even the beginning of the end.’”