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Owens retakes lead from McAdams in 4th Congressional District

Republican challenger up 688 over Democratic incumbent

Burgess Owens, 4th Congressional District Republican candidate, participates in a Utah Debate Commission debate with his opponent Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, left, at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.
Burgess Owens, 4th Congressional District Republican candidate, participates in a Utah Debate Commission debate with his opponent Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, left, at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Republican Burgess Owens once again took the lead over Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams in Utah’s 4th Congressional District’s close race, 47.6% to 47.4%, with the release Saturday of more results from Salt Lake County.

Just 688 votes separate Owens, a former NFL player, author and frequent Fox News guest in the 4th District, from McAdams, the state’s only Democrat in Congress in the district made up of portions of Salt Lake, Utah, Juab and Sanpete counties.

McAdams had been ahead by 405 votes Friday after falling behind Owens by 2,284 votes a day earlier, as results continue to be tabulated from Tuesday’s largely by-mail election. Salt Lake County, where most 4th District voters live, added more than 14,700 votes to the count on Saturday.

So far, more than 306,000 ballots from all four counties have been counted in the race, which also includes a pair of third-party candidates, Libertarian John Molnar and the United Utah Party’s Jonia Broderick, who suspended her campaign last month and endorsed McAdams.

It is not clear how many 4th District votes are still outstanding, especially in Salt Lake County, seen as key to the race. In 2018, McAdams, then the Salt Lake County mayor, was able to defeat two-term Republican Rep. Mia Love by less than 700 votes, even though she won in Utah, Juab and Sanpete counties.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said Saturday that countywide, there are about 82,000 mail-in ballots and more than 1,800 overseas and military ballots left to be counted as well as more than 11,000 provisional ballots being verified. She has not broken down the remaining ballots by congressional district.

Owens’ campaign was upbeat about the latest numbers.

“We’re feeling good,” Owens’ campaign spokesman, Jesse Ranney, said. “Excited to get the final tally. We’re confident when all the votes are counted Burgess will be representing the 4th District.”

McAdams’ campaign manager, Andrew Roberts, also expressed confidence.

“Again, we’re seeing numbers go back and forth as additional votes from throughout the 4th District are tallied,” Roberts said. “We remain confident that Ben will be re-elected. We are grateful to Utah’s election clerks for their dedicated effort on a weekend to update the results for Utah voters and candidates.”

Results will be updated again on Monday.