State Rep. Kim Coleman is running for Utah’s 4th Congressional seat

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Kim Coleman announces her candidacy to represent Utah’s 4th Congressional District, in West Jordan on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.

West Jordan • Three-term Republican state legislator Kim Coleman officially announced Saturday morning that she’s running for the 4th Congressional District, hoping to unseat Ben McAdams — who is currently the only Utah Democrat in Congress.

In announcing her campaign, Coleman came out critical of McAdams’ vote to impeach President Donald Trump and aligned herself as someone who is a full-fledged Trump supporter. Those who came to her West Jordan campaign headquarters on Saturday morning were greeted with a full-size cardboard cutout of Trump posing with two thumbs up, donning a cap that read “Kim cares.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A cutout of President Donald Trump with a hat from the Kim Coleman campaign as Coleman announces her candidacy to represent Utah’s 4th Congressional District, in West Jordan on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.

In her speech, Coleman praised Trump’s plans to slash business regulations and cut taxes, his push to increase border security and his picks for federal judges and the U.S. Supreme Court — accomplishments that drew cheers from the 40 or so supporters that packed her campaign offices Saturday.

Coleman also applauded Trump’s decision to order the U.S. strike that killed a top Iranian general Friday, which has increased tensions in that region.

The Utah lawmaker said she didn’t believe that the current Democratic presidential candidates who hope to challenge Trump in next year’s election would have made the right decisions to keep the country safe.

“I’m glad that Trump was in office when that intel came through,” she told her supporters Saturday. “And I’m glad that we have a president who does not apologize for protecting Americans’ lives.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Kim Coleman announces her candidacy to represent Utah’s 4th Congressional District, in West Jordan on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.

Coleman accused Democrats and McAdams of voting to impeach Trump in a near party-line vote because their party can’t win against him when he runs for reelection next November.

“He had a choice,” Coleman said of McAdams. “He had the choice between representing this district and the swamp. And he chose the swamp.”

But when asked whether she believes it was improper for Trump to ask Ukraine’s president to announce an investigation into a political rival, Coleman said it was a difficult question to answer because the impeachment process has been “corrupted.”

“I’ve long been a proponent of due process,” she said. “Due process matters. If there is not integrity in the process, it’s hard to know what the result is. It’s hard to know what any of the outcomes are when the process itself is tainted from the onset.”

While Utah is a Republican-dominated state, it isn’t entirely Trump territory — and he’s more unpopular in the 4th District than in any other district in the Beehive State. The president garnered less than half the state’s vote in 2016 and in the 4th District, Trump earned less than 40%.

McAdams won the congressional seat in 2018 by the barest of margins — less than 700 votes — and is considered a top target by the national Republican party.

Utah Rep. Ben McAdams speaks during a news conference announcing he will vote to impeach President Donald Trump Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, in Murray, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Coleman emerged as a top challenger to McAdams when state Sen. Dan Hemmert, who had raised $400,000 in his campaign account and won backing of the National Republican Congressional Commission, dropped out of the race in mid-December.

Coleman’s interest in civic engagement, she said Saturday, began with a start-up of a neighborhood watch program after she spotted a drug house nearby. She then served as a planning commissioner in West Valley City, and supported her husband, Joel, as he served two terms as a West Valley City councilman. The couple also founded Monticello Academy, a charter school in West Valley.

She is the mother of five children, and said that it was their futures that motivated her to run for Congress.

Coleman on Saturday described herself as someone with “westside pride,” and said she gets upset when people like McAdams — who lives on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley — try to weigh in on how their communities should be built and run.

She criticized McAdams’ policies when he served as Salt Lake County’s mayor prior to his election to Congress, saying it rarely benefited those on the west side of the county.

“I don’t just live here,” she told her supporters. “I’m from here. I look out at you and you’re my friends and you’re my neighbors. And Ben McAdams still lives somewhere else in some other district.”

An unabashed conservative, Coleman has represented West Jordan in the Utah House since her election in 2014. Among the prominent bills she has sponsored is a controversial plan aimed at making it easier for counties to split. Her HB93 failed in a House vote last year after opposition from the Utah Association of Counties. But it was enthusiastically supported by Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, who saw it as a possible solution to the political tension in San Juan County that has intensified since a court-ordered special election led to Navajo and Democratic control of the County Commission in 2018.

Another controversial piece of legislation championed by Coleman was one that would have authorized university authorities to report sexual assaults of victims to police even over the objections of victims.

Opponents, including BYU professor and sexual assault researcher Julie Valentine, warned that such a law would discourage victims from reporting assaults. HB254, narrowly passed the House but failed in the Senate during the 2018 legislative session.

In the most recent special session, she was among a handful of Republicans who voted against the tax reform legislation.

She voted for the medical marijuana repeal-and-replace bill and for the Medicaid expansion repeal-and-replace bill, along with the vast majority of her Republican colleagues.