Citing a ‘disturbing rise’ of ‘radical’ national voices, Kaysville mayor launches exploratory congressional run

(Photo courtesy Katie Witt) Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt announced she is exploring the possibility of running for the open seat in Congressional District 1

Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt is exploring a run for northern Utah’s 1st Congressional District, becoming the first to express an interest in the 2020 race to replace outgoing Rep. Rob Bishop.

Her announcement came just hours after Bishop, who ran for reelection on the promise that this would be his last term, reaffirmed his decision to leave Congress in an editorial board meeting with The Deseret News on Monday.

“I think [Bishop] has done a wonderful job and I hope to be the person that he passes the baton to,” Witt told The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday. “There’s so many things he has worked on, especially protecting Hill Air Force Base, public lands [and] making sure that we stand up for our state and states’ rights.”

Bishop, elected in 2002, will leave Congress as the state’s longest-serving member of the current delegation and is now rumored to be considering a gubernatorial bid. During his nine terms in office, he served for several years as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and has often infuriated environmentalists on public lands issues.

Witt describes herself as a “dedicated wife, mother, woman of faith and public servant.” She said she is considering a run because she is “committed to preserving freedom, expanding opportunity for all Northern Utahns, and reigniting American patriotism to empower citizens to live their best lives.”

Another motivation, she says, is the “disturbing rise” of national voices — including “radical” Democratic Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar — that “promote socialism and religious bigotry over the freedom available through Capitalism and our American Way of Life.”

“It’s discouraging to me when I see women in politics in D.C. are sharing such outlandish and extreme views, and I think we absolutely need to [elect] more Republican women,” she said. “If we’re going to change what comes out of D.C., we need to change what goes into D.C.”

Following the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, a large number of women ran for and were elected into public office — but it was largely a blue wave. After the 2018 midterm elections, the number of Republican congresswomen dropped from 22 to 13, serving as a wake-up call for some party members of the need to recruit and promote more women in politics.

Witt, who was elected mayor in 2017, said her next step is to travel the district, talking to “everyday” Utahns and sharing her ideas about ways to improve the economy and eliminate government regulations. She also is advocating for policies to secure the nation’s borders, strengthen health care and protect constitutional rights.

Until recently, Witt lived in Colorado, where she ran now-Sen. Mitt Romney’s 2008 state caucus operation before winning public office as a city council member in Longmont, Colo., where she served from 2009 to 2013. She moved back to Utah to Kaysville in 2014 and ran an unsuccessful bid for the City Council in 2015 before winning the mayor’s seat.

She plans to make an official announcement of whether to move forward with her congressional campaign in the next month or so.

“I just think that we have such great opportunity in this nation that gets overlooked, and that’s what I want to focus on,” she said of her possible congressional run. “I want to talk about the things we’re doing right, the things we still have possibility to achieve and I want to make sure our kids and our grandkids believe and know they are the luckiest people who have ever walked the face of the earth.”

Morgan County Councilwoman Tina Cannon also said Monday that she was also considering a run for the seat, noting the need for a “fearless conservative who will step up and govern the way they campaign – putting Utah people, principles and values first.” She said in a news release that she would make a decision in the coming days.