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

First Published      Last Updated Jun 15 2017 11:17 pm

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.

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