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Here's what Republican candidates for Jason Chaffetz's seat want to do in office

Published June 16, 2017 10:22 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In the fierce contest to replace outgoing Rep. Jason Chaffetz, 12 Republicans are jockeying to stand out in the crowded field.

Though it is almost assured that a Republican will ultimately fill the coveted seat — in the nine congressional elections since 2000, Utah's 3rd District has rarely dipped below 60 percent of the vote for the GOP candidate — most will be winnowed out at Saturday's Republican convention.

To sift out where each candidate stands on major policies before that, The Salt Lake Tribune conducted a survey among the contenders. The congressional hopefuls answered five questions on topics including health care reform, Russian interference and immigration regulations. Their answers are highlighted below.



Obamacare • All 12 conservative candidates running for Chaffetz's seat support efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They diverge on what to replace it with.

Investment adviser Tanner Ainge, son of Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, supports a system that "gets the government out of the way of the doctor-patient relationship." That competition would lower costs and improve quality of care, he said.

A handful of contenders say states should wrest control of insurance coverage and health care reform from the federal government.

"It shouldn't take an act of Congress to see your doctor," said state Sen. Deidre Henderson.

The president • Just one of Republicans in the race disavowed Donald Trump entirely. Shayne Row, a first-time candidate out of Murray, does not approve of the president, his administration or his policies.

"He is a businessman," Row said. "He should think about others before he thinks about himself all the time."

Most, however, offered qualified, lukewarm support for Trump. Provo Mayor John Curtis applauded the president's "best achievement to date" as his nomination of then-Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. State Sen. Margaret Dayton stands with Trump's call to review national monument designations, including Bears Ears. Henderson commended his tax agenda.

While former state Rep. Chris Herrod, an outspoken critic of illegal immigration, appreciates the president's actions to limit foreign travel and vet refugees, he disagrees with his combative rhetoric. Trump's style, he said, "sometimes hurts his agenda."

Debbie Aldrich, who hosts a conservative podcast, was the sole candidate to unequivocally back the president.

"Trump has no one in Congress that will help him put America first," she said. "I plan to be that congresswoman."

Chaffetz • Rep. Jason Chaffetz's announcement that he'll leave Congress set off a scramble for Republicans looking to emulate him — and some hoping to do things differently.

The most common complaints from candidates about the congressman? He didn't finish his term, and he didn't hold enough town hall meetings with constituents.

"He was a great conservative, but, unlike him, when the going gets tough, I won't back down," Aldrich said.

Dayton joked that she would not leg wrestle on national television, referring to Chaffetz's 2009 matchup against comedian Stephen Colbert. "That's not a comfortable visual," she said.

Keith Kuder, a 33-year-old political consultant and Vineyard resident, said he'd have a blow-up mattress in his congressional office.

"I could easily hide that better" than a cot, he said. Chaffetz says he sleeps on a cot rather than rent an apartment on Capitol Hill.

Russia • The competitors seemed the most divided on how the United States should respond to intelligence findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

They wavered on whether sanctions would effectively punish the country. They hesitated to say what Russia hopes to accomplish with the meddling. And they suggested that the issue may just be a giant distraction.

Herrod proposed working with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Aldrich recommended returning fire by having the United States interfere with the foreign country's votes.

Utah National Guard veteran Stewart Peay and American Fork lawyer Damian Kidd say the best solution is to continue with current probes of the situation.

"Our Congress is investigating, our independent prosecutor is investigating and our intelligence agencies are investigating," Kidd said. "This is the proper path, and we will act on the findings of those investigations."

Immigration • Just one of the 12 candidates, Aldrich, unflinchingly favors Trump's proposed travel ban. The others support balancing security needs with providing a welcoming atmosphere for those fleeing persecution.

State Rep. Brad Daw said all individuals should be "carefully vetted and have a responsible host" upon entering the United States. There should be no blanket ban, he added.

Ainge said discussion of Trump's executive orders on immigration and refugees "concerns me greatly."

"I am terrified by the idea of a president speaking out against a religious minority group in an unrestrained manner and stoking the flames of fear and divisiveness in our society," he said, noting the similar persecution of Utah's pioneers. Ainge ultimately voted for Trump because "he was a far better choice than Hillary Clinton."

Defense contractor Paul Fife suggested that entry into the country should be based on labor demands. He also laid out a path for legal-immigrant status that includes an application fee and learning English.

ctanner@sltrib.com

Twitter: @CourtneyLTanner

— For the complete responses of the candidates, visit sltrib.com

 

 

 

 

 

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