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GOP’s Burgess Owens agrees to debate Utah’s re-election bid

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah (AP) — Republican U.S. Representative Burgess Owens is set to debate Democrat Darlene McDonald in suburban Salt Lake City on Friday in their first and only meeting ahead of the midterm elections.

Owens, a former NFL player and one of two black Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, is heavily favored to win the race in Utah’s 4th congressional district, which has historically swung between the Democrats and Republicans…

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SOUTH JORDAN, Utah (AP) — Republican U.S. Representative Burgess Owens is set to debate Democrat Darlene McDonald in suburban Salt Lake City on Friday in their first and only meeting ahead of the midterm elections.

Owens, a former NFL player and one of two black Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, is heavily favored to win the race in Utah’s 4th congressional district, which has historically swung between the Democrats and Republicans until GOP lawmakers redefined its boundaries last year. redistricting process in a decade to make it more republican.

Former President Donald Trump won the district by nine percentage points in 2020, but would have won by 26 percentage points under his new limits.

A debate between the two almost didn’t happen after Owens pulled out in the 11th hour of a televised event hosted by the Utah Debate Commission due to what he said were complaints about the moderator. His absence drew rebuke from McDonald’s and United Utah Party candidate January Walker, and reflected an emerging trend in national politics of candidates deciding to minimize debate appearances or avoid them altogether. In addition to skipping the debate scheduled earlier in October, Owens also did not participate in a televised debate ahead of the Republican primary. Her campaign ads have focused on abortion, the fight against critical race theory, and the opposition of transgender children to girls’ sports.

At Friday’s event, the two candidates will meet for an evening debate that will be broadcast live but not televised or open to the public.

Owens converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints near the end of his NFL career. He spent part of his childhood growing up in segregation-era Florida and serving on the House Education and Labor Committee and the Judiciary Committee, which oversaw the impeachment proceedings against Trump.

McDonald, who is also black, is an author and community activist focused on education and racial inequality in Utah. She has already been a candidate twice, without success.

Walker, the third candidate, is not expected to attend the debate.

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Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion