Federal overreach, abortion and legal experience were the issues four Republican attorney general candidates were asked about at a discussion presented by Liberty Forum and sponsored by Utah Eagle Forum.

Rachel Terry, Trent Christensen, Derek Brown and Debby Mylar (standing in for her husband Frank Mylar, who is the candidate) took the stage Wednesday in Orem to answer questions. The four Republican candidates are running against Austin Hepworth (unaffiliated), W. Andrew McCullough (Libertarian), Michelle Quist (United Utah), Rudy J. Bautista (Democratic) and David Carlson (Democratic).

The forum occurred a couple weeks ahead of the Utah Republican Convention on April 27.

Abortion

The moderator asked each candidate to describe what they have done “to defend the pro-life issue and to protect unborn babies.” Terry described herself as a “pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-families candidate.” She said the work the state of Utah has ahead is “to fight for the statutes that were passed — the trigger laws.”

Brown spoke about the necessity of curtailing federal overreach and said he was “thrilled” by the Supreme Court decision. “If there’s three things that Biden can’t undo that Trump did, it’s (Neil) Gorsuch, (Brett) Kavanaugh and (Amy Coney) Barrett.” He said he would defend Utah’s abortion law, that his family was “pro-life in terms of our politics” and that he was pleased the Dobbs decision returned abortion decisions back to the state.

Debby Mylar said her husband Frank Mylar has defended sidewalk counselors pro bono in court after they had been prosecuted (she said the counselors were talking to women about abortion alternatives and that Mylar won the case). Debby Mylar noted that Frank Mylar had filed a brief to support the state’s pro-life laws.

Christensen said the issue of abortion was sent back to the states after decades of strategic work by organizations and officials to get the right case in federal court, and he believes that judicial reform is necessary. “We need to be pro-adoption, we need to be pro-everything that relates to this,” he said.

Federal overreach

Debby Mylar said Frank Mylar would fight federal overreach on land and “fight to kick out the Department of Justice” from sexual assault cases. “He helped ranchers in southern Utah over 20 years ago to protect their right to graze on federal lands,” Mylar said. “He will continue to do whatever he can as your next attorney general to push back against federal overreach in Utah.”

Christensen said the No. 1 thing that needs to happen is Donald Trump needs to be the next president. He said with Trump as president, Utah would be helped on this issue. He also added that he would fight federal overreach on land as it pertains to tourism. In addition to overreach on lands, Christensen said the state needs an attorney general who will prosecute issues related to trafficking.

Terry said federal overreach is an important issue because it needs to be turned around now. She said she agreed with Christensen that Trump needed to be elected and outlined three areas where she said federal overreach needs to be addressed: public lands, energy and education. Terry pointed toward her experience working with schools and universities on Title IX issues.

Brown said he was optimistic about the prospect of Chevron deference changing (it’s a fancy term referring to judicial deference that the court gives to administrative actions). If Chevron deference changes, he said “the courts then will be on our side, not the regulator’s side” and unelected government bureaucrats’ power would be subdued. “If Chevron is overturned, which I am hoping it is, there will be hundreds of lawsuits that we will file. They will not just be on lands, they will be on energy, education, on every one of these issues.”

Related
Republican Utah attorney general candidates differentiate themselves at forum

Legal experience

The four candidates were asked about their legal experience that prepared them to run for attorney general. Here are bulleted lists of their answers.

Brown:

  • Said he worked for two of the largest firms in the country.
  • Spent time working with a federal judge and worked for Sen. Mike Lee.
  • Has done litigation work and filed briefs with the Supreme Court.
  • Served on judicial committee while in the Utah Legislature.
  • Worked with private clients on legal issues including issues at the state legislature from a lobbying perspective.

Mylar:

  • Handled juvenile court abuse cases and constitutional claims.
  • Handled numerous 10th Circuit Court of Appeals arguments.
  • Supervised attorneys in the attorney general’s office.
  • Has run his own law firm for 24 years and also has performed pro bono litigation protecting parental rights.
  • Has represented an airline as well as numerous jury trials.

Christensen:

  • Said he could talk about his case work, but wanted to talk about his goals.
  • Wants to ensure that every vote counts.
  • Stated he would support law enforcement so they can prosecute crimes.
  • Has the goal of securing the border.
  • Use the whole office to achieve these goals.

Terry:

  • Has practiced law in Utah courts for 20 years.
  • Worked on difficult cases involving death and constitutional rights violations.
  • Said she would fight for state’s rights.
  • Stated that she is the head of an agency with a $200 million budget and 35 employees doing similar working to the attorney general.
  • Said people in the Utah attorney general’s office trust her.

Contributing: Brigham Tomco