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Owens still leads McAdams in Utah’s 4th Congressional District

Burgess Owens, Republican candidate for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, talks to reporters during an election night event for Republican candidates at the Utah Association of Realtors building in Sandy on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Burgess Owens, Republican candidate for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, talks to reporters during an election night event for Republican candidates at the Utah Association of Realtors building in Sandy on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Republican Burgess Owens saw his lead increase to 1,780 votes over Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams Tuesday in Utah’s 4th Congressional District race as ballots continue to be tabulated a week after the largely by-mail election.

The race remains too close to call, with Owens, a former NFL player, author and frequent Fox News guest, ahead of the first-term congressman, 47.6% to 47.1%, in the district made up of portions of Salt Lake, Utah, Sanpete and Juab counties.

Most of the district’s voters live in Salt Lake County, which reported more than 19,000 additional votes Tuesday. McAdams continues to lead in the county where he served as mayor, but lagged behind Owens in the latest results by more than 1,000 votes.

Owens has stayed in front in the other three counties, adding 65 votes from Sanpete and Utah counties Tuesday to just 16 from those counties for McAdams.

Two years ago, McAdams won the seat by less than 700 votes over two-term Republican Rep. Mia Love despite losing in Utah, Sanpete and Juab counties. The 2018 race wasn’t called for two weeks and it took nearly another week before Love delivered a concession speech.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said there are a total of 29,583 ballots still to be counted, but could not specify how many are from 4th District voters. The total includes 11,278 provisional ballots that need to be verified, which could take until Friday or longer to finish, she said, as well as 1,962 ballots from military and overseas voters.

Both campaigns sounded upbeat as they wait for more definitive results.

“We’re feeling very optimistic and looking forward to seeing the final count,” said Owens’ campaign spokesman, Jesse Ranney.

McAdams’ campaign manager, Andrew Roberts, said, “This race is proving to be as close as we always said it would be. Utah election clerks continue to count ballots in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. We remain optimistic that Ben will ultimately prevail and await more results Wednesday.”

The race has been viewed as one of the country’s most competitive. Utah’s 4th District seat is one of only eight nationwide that has yet to be called in an election that has seen Democrats maintaining control of the U.S. House but losing at least 10 seats, according to The Cook Political Report, which provides nonpartisan analysis.