Rep. Burgess Owens, Darlene McDonald set to debate in Utah’s 4th Congressional District
Incumbent congressman skipped a debate earlier this month citing issues with moderator
After skipping debates during the primary election and earlier this month, Republican Rep. Burgess Owens has agreed to debate Democrat Darlene McDonald in Utah’s 4th Congressional District on Friday night.
The debate scheduled for 5 p.m. in South Jordan will be moderated by University of Utah political science professor James Curry. There will not be a live audience in the venue, but the media is invited to cover the event. Both candidates plan to stream the debate on their social media accounts.
Owens refused to participate in a debate earlier this month sponsored by the nonpartisan Utah Debate Commission because the moderator was the executive editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, which he said ran a “racist” cartoon about him last year. At the same time, he invited McDonald to join him at two town hall events in October.
Rep. Owens chose not to attend the first debate.— Darlene McDonald (@VoteDarlene) October 21, 2022
On behalf of the constituents of CD4, we will be attending and debating issues that are important to our district and state. Details TBA #cd4debate #ut04debate #debate #utpol #votedarlene pic.twitter.com/Jch4xvOx9e
McDonald called Owens pulling out of the debate at the last minute “cowardly.” She and United Utah Party candidate January Walker debated without the freshman congressman.
Walker, who barely qualified for the Utah Debate Commission event, apparently wasn’t invited to participate on Friday.
United Utah Party chairwoman Hillary Stirling said it’s “unacceptable” for Walker, who has blasted both Owens and McDonald on Twitter, to not be included.
“For a candidate to take over the debate process and conspicuously remove one of his opponents from the stage should offend the sensitivities of every Utahn who believes in an open and fair election process,” she said in a statement.
Owens declined to take part in a debate with his Republican challenger before the June primary election. The Utah Republican Party discouraged candidates from participating in Utah Debate Commission events this past spring. The Utah GOP tried unsuccessfully to set up a debate between Owens and his opponent.
Thousands of Utahns have already voted in the midterm election as mail-in ballots went out last week. Election Day is Nov. 8.