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Misty K. Snow isn't the average Utah Democrat running for major office.

She is poor, a millennial and a transgender woman, but she'd tell you one of the biggest differences is that she isn't afraid to espouse liberal policies in her long-shot bid to oust Sen. Mike Lee.

"Let's try running as a Democrat for a change, instead of Republican-light. Let's actually stand for the values that we believe in. Let's generate excitement," she said Friday during a conversation with The Salt Lake Tribune's editorial board, contrasting herself with Sam Granato, a Salt Lake County councilman who lost to Lee, 62 percent to 33 percent, in 2010.

To drive her point home, Snow criticized Doug Owens, the moderate Democrat running his second race against Rep. Mia Love in the 4th Congressional District. That matchup is the only Utah contest getting national attention and the one prognosticators believe will be the closest on Election Day.

Snow argues Owens lost in 2014 by about 7,500 votes because he didn't offer a clear contrast to Love, the Republican. And Snow believes Owens is making that same mistake again.

"Why don't you stand up for the working class? Why don't you come out in favor of raising the minimum wage? Why don't you stand up for LGBT rights? Why weren't you at [the Utah] Pride [Festival]? Take a stand on something. He has no issues," Snow said. "He frustrates me as a candidate. I'm so glad I don't live in District 4 so I don't have to worry about voting for him."

Owens declined to respond to Snow's comments.

Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon said: "Obviously, we don't want our candidates criticizing each other, but we recognize that they may have different stands on these issues. ... Those who become members of the Democratic Party have their own ideas about what it means to be a Democrat, but at the end of the day, I think all of us agree that our goal is to improve the lives of Utah families."

In his own conversation with The Tribune's editorial board this week, Owens said he does support a minimum-wage increase, though he doesn't know what it should be. Snow wants to move the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour over a number of years.

Owens describes himself as a pragmatist more than an ideologue, saying finding common ground on a problem is more important than his personal views. He also doesn't plan to change his strategy from 2014.

"Bipartisanship yields tangible benefits," he said. "I've seen too much of the private sector to think Republicans don't have any good ideas. I think we need to get back to working together."

Snow, 31, is a first-time candidate who was inspired by the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. She's proud that she's one of just two U.S. Senate candidates endorsed by Sanders' Our Revolution group. The other is Russ Feingold in Wisconsin.

Snow wants to see the country move toward a government-run health-care system and tuition-free state-run colleges. She wants to raise the taxes on capital gains to support these programs and reduce the national debt. She wants to impose a 5-cent-per-gallon federal gas tax to support clean-energy initiatives involving solar and wind and backs a plan to tax industry for its carbon emissions.

Lee doesn't support any of these positions, nor does Owens.

The contrast isn't new among Utah Democrats. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, who held the 4th District seat before Love, was often criticized within his own party for being too moderate. Claudia Wright, a retired schoolteacher, forced Matheson into a primary in 2010 by arguing that he was too conservative.

"I do think Jim Matheson started out as a moderate Republican," Wright said at the time, deliberately misidentifying the congressman's party affiliation. "But [corporate] campaign contributions moved him to the right."

Matheson beat Wright easily in that primary and ended up holding office for two more terms. He decided not to run for re-election in 2014, ending a 14-year House career, and Owens, who counts Matheson as a friend and supporter, entered the race.

Twitter: @mattcanham