Republican candidate Nick Huey has launched a somewhat unorthodox campaign in Utah’s 4th Congressional District.
In October, he challenged incumbent GOP Rep. Burgess Owens to join him in taking a lie detector test with questions from voters submitted through social media. Owens didn’t respond to the offer. Huey did it without him.
Now, Huey has taken it upon himself to apologize to Democrats and the nation on behalf of the entire Republican Party. He has written an “Apology Resolution from Republicans to Democrats,” outlining a list of 15 ways he believes the GOP has wronged Democrats and voters over the years.
“Half the country is convinced that the other half is evil and ruining our country. In reality, both sides have something to offer, and both sides have something to apologize for. This is a way for Republicans to own their part, and a necessary first step in bridging the nation’s steep divide,” he said.
Huey’s list of Republican “wrongs” includes claims of voter fraud, failing to be fiscally conservative, gerrymandering, being slow to the table on civil rights, and stalling or rushing U.S. Supreme Court nominees to suit the party’s interests.
As he campaigns, Huey is making the rounds to Republican groups asking for signatures on the apology he posted on Change.org. He hopes to get 300 “key” GOP supporters before the end of the year. He plans to send a copy of the resolution to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., if it gets 100,000 signatures or a sizable amount short of that. Only 25 people had signed it as of Friday morning.
“So, from Republicans to our nation’s Democrats, we’re sorry,” Huey wrote.
“In the last few decades we have allowed our desire for American greatness to be eclipsed by an overwhelming desire to see you fail. As we’ve focused on winning voters, we’ve tried to make you look bad, in order to make ourselves look better.”
Reactions to his apology resolution have been mixed, he said, from anger on the extremes to agreement or even gratitude from moderates and independents.
The biggest pushback is that the list doesn’t represent individual Republicans, a take with which Huey agrees.
“Most Republicans are not guilty of these things but the party that we adhere to is, and somebody has to take responsibility and leadership isn’t doing it, so it has to come from a grassroots place,” he said. “This is a grassroots effort to take responsibility of the national dialogue and to cool the waters and to begin to work together again.”
As a first-time candidate taking on an incumbent, 29-year-old Huey, who recently quit his job as a creative consultant to campaign full time, said he has to be “scrappy” and speak to issues in ways that others aren’t willing to.
“I wanted to be honest. I realize it doesn’t score me any points with the further right wings of the party, and that’s OK,” he said.
Active in climate change initiatives while attending Brigham Young University, Huey teamed up with students at the rival University of Utah for some “climate action stunts.” He figured if Cougars and Utes could work together, why not Republicans and Democrats.
As social media has created echo chambers, he said, division has become the biggest problem plaguing the United States and the world.
Huey said he came up with the list from thoughts “banging around” in his head and through requests for input from liberals on Reddit. Some called him an idiot, while others offered suggestions.
Democrats, too, have contributed to the division but “pointing the finger at them doesn’t get us anywhere. Each side kind of needs to look inward,” he said.
Here is Huey’s list of Republican wrongs that he says need to be righted:
- We’ve sacrificed unity at the altar of political gain.
- We’ve weakened faith in the election process without solid evidence of fraud. We rushed to deny the veracity of our own loss in the 2020 election, but said nothing about fraud when we won subsequent elections.
- We’ve used tools like the debt ceiling as political blackmail to achieve our aims, rather than focus on being a party with compelling solutions.
- We’ve vilified you for “out of control spending” when you had power, and then immediately gone on extravagant spending sprees of our own.
- We’ve stalled Supreme Court appointments in the name of fairness, and then rushed them forward when it favored us.
- We’ve gerrymandered our way to influence, letting politicians choose their voters, instead of respecting that — in a republic — the voters ought to choose who represents them.
- We’ve too often used “both sides do it” as an excuse to not hold ourselves and our allies accountable.
- We regularly accept campaign money from special interests, then cry “foul” when you do the same.
- We’ve been slow to the table in civil rights.
- We have voted against increased transparency and allowed leadership to be compromised by special interests and outside money.
- We have rejected good ideas, simply because they came from the wrong mouth.
- We have left the enormous task of addressing climate change and other issues to you, rather than come to the table with solutions of our own. In fact, our go-to answer to the world’s greatest problems has been to say that Democrats’ solutions are terrible, while half-heartedly advocating for our own.
- We’ve used past actions to justify ever worsening behavior, lowering the bar for civil discourse and ethical governance year after year.
- We’ve focused more on your weaknesses than your strengths, and more on our strengths than our weaknesses.
- We have not been the fiscal conservative partners we’ve promised to be.