AP

Utah Rep. Owens, McDonald agree on little in only debate

Oct 28, 2022, 6:47 AM | Updated: 8:53 pm

U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens speaks during a debate with Democrat Darlene McDonald, Friday, Oct. 28, 202...

U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens speaks during a debate with Democrat Darlene McDonald, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, in South Jordan, Utah, in their first and only meeting in the lead-up to the midterm elections. The first-term Republican elected not to participate in a televised Utah Debate Commission event earlier this month. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah (AP) — U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens and Democratic challenger Darlene McDonald agreed on none of the issues addressed Friday in their only debate before the midterm elections, with each largely echoing their party’s talking points on inflation, abortion and infrastructure spending.

In an untelevised debate in the basement of a suburban real estate office with an audience of only campaign staff and half a dozen reporters, the Utah Republican blamed Democrats and President Joe Biden for fentanyl being imported across the U.S.-Mexico border, racial division and inflation. Owens accused Democrats of pushing critical race theory — an academic framework that connects the country’s history, including the legacy of slavery, to contemporary racism — and said that it’s destroying the country’s social fabric.

“One thing that the Biden administration has accomplished is that they’ve given us a common purpose again,” Owens, one of two Black Republicans in the U.S. House, added. “We now share in what’s called misery, as a people.”

McDonald, who is also Black, countered that Owens was spreading falsehoods to drum up fear — about both the nature of protests against police brutality and the idea that critical race theory was being taught in K-12 schools.

“What he is trying to do is tell his base that we are teaching your children something that we are not teaching them in school,” she said.

The Utah State Board of Education has said critical race theory was never taught in schools.

Owens blamed today’s Democrats and the institutions that have supported them for fracturing people’s unifying values such as love for God, sports and country.

The “leftist Democrat Supreme Court” removed God from schools and owners of professional sports teams pushed a “woke agenda,” he said.

When McDonald attacked Owens for voting against certifying the Pennsylvania vote after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, Owens responded by questioning why she and other Democrats weren’t similarly outraged by protests that swept the country in 2020 after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd.

The us-versus-them partisanship reflects a dynamic that’s grown prominent as gerrymandering has become more common throughout the United States. Only 30 out of 435 congressional districts would have been won or lost by 5% in 2020, meaning most Americans today live in congressional districts that heavily favor one party or the other.

Utah’s 4th Congressional District is one such district. Unlike prior elections, when the suburban Salt Lake City-based seat traded hands between, Owens is heavily favored to win reelection next month.

Former President Donald Trump won the district by nine percentage points in 2020. He would have won by 26 percentage points under its new boundaries approved by the Republican-controlled statehouse.

“You have someone in Congress who won’t even bother to return your phone call or your email,” McDonald said, sitting next to Owens, who declined to answer a question about redistricting. “You have to make sure you have real representation and voters are picking their representatives, not representatives picking their voters.”

Though both candidates in their closing remarks made nods to coming together and transcending polarization, their overtures were a far cry from past debates . Two years ago, then-U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams, a Democrat, highlighted votes he’d taken against his own party. Owens said he advocated reforming — not repealing — the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s a war,” Owens said Friday night. “It’s a war on our middle class. It’s a war on our energy. It’s a war on our children — again (critical race theory) is teaching them to go a different direction.”

A debate between the two almost did not occur after Owens withdrew from an earlier Utah Debate Commission-hosted televised event due to what he said were complaints about the moderator. The Friday evening debate, which was plagued by interruptions and technical difficulties, was streamed on YouTube and Facebook, where only a few hundred people watched.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections

Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Washington. The U.S. Supreme Court has h...

Associated Press

Supreme Court decision on Trump’s election status could come Monday morning

A SCOTUS decision could come Monday in the case about whether Trump can be kicked off the ballot over his efforts to undo his 2020 defeat.

9 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley poses for a selfie after speakin...

Associated Press

Nikki Haley wins D.C. Republican primary, her first 2024 victory

Nikki Haley has won the Republican primary in the District of Columbia, notching her first victory of the 2024 campaign.

10 hours ago

An Apache group that has fought to protect land it considers sacred from a copper mining project in...

Associated Press

A US appeals court ruling could allow mine development in central Arizona on land sacred to Apaches

An Apache group that has fought to protect land from a copper mining project in central Arizona suffered a significant blow.

15 hours ago

On Friday, March 1, 2024, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said yogurt sold in the U.S. can ma...

Associated Press

Eating yogurt may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, FDA says

Eating at least two cups of yogurt a week might reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

17 hours ago

Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of metro Phoenix that r...

Associated Press

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain

A plan to manage rural groundwater passed the Arizona Senate amid concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations.

3 days ago

A woman pauses while shopping at a Kohl's store in Clifton, N.J., Jan. 26, 2024. On Thursday, Feb. ...

Associated Press

Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge picked up last month in sign of still-elevated prices

An inflation gauge favored by the Federal Reserve increased in January, the latest sign that the slowdown in U.S. consumer price increases is occurring unevenly from month to month.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Utah Rep. Owens, McDonald agree on little in only debate