United Utah Party candidate eyes Ben McAdams’ seat

(Courtesy photo) Jonia Broderick, a United Utah Party, is pulling together a 2020 campaign in Utah's 4th Congressional District to try to unseat Rep. Ben McAdams.

A children's book author from South Jordan is assembling a 2020 campaign to challenge U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams and — while she's at it — the entire two-party system.

In fact, the United Utah Party’s Jonia Broderick says she quite likes the incumbent Democrat and that her run in the 4th Congressional District is more about breaking the “duopoly” of party politics.

"My issue is with the party system, because no matter how good you are, ultimately, you end up having to abide by the rules of your tribe," Broderick, 56, said Monday in a phone interview.

Her platform includes ideas for tackling the nation’s ballooning debt, limiting the influence of special interests in elections and welcoming more refugees into the country. She’s also a supporter of term limits — 16 years for a U.S. House member and 12 for a senator.

People who stay in office too long tend to create a kind of “fiefdom” around themselves, she contends.

"They think they have unlimited power," she said.

This would be Broderick’s first run for elected office, and she acknowledges she didn’t see herself as a candidate. While she has been active in various campaigns over the years, she’s worked largely behind the scenes.

She says she answered the call, though, when leaders in the United Utah Party asked her to consider the congressional contest. Her campaign announcement is expected to happen in the fall, a campaign staffer said.

A third-party candidate could be especially significant in the competitive 4th District, which McAdams won last year by a mere 694 votes over incumbent Mia Love. No third-party candidate was on the ballot in last year’s race.

So far, only two Republican candidates — party activist Kathleen Anderson and veteran John Molnar — have stepped forward to challenge McAdams next year, although Love has said she hasn’t ruled out a bid to reclaim the seat if the GOP fails to field a strong enough contender.

Other potential Republican challengers include West Jordan Rep. Kim Coleman, and Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie.

But Richard Davis, chairman of the United Utah Party, said Utah voters appear to be wearying of divisive rhetoric and partisan polarization.

“I think [Broderick] has the ability to appeal to a lot of people upset about politics as it is and not happy with the choices that they get between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party,” he said.

A graduate of Columbia College in Missouri, Broderick has worked as a writer, account executive, editor at a publishing house and traffic manager at a court transcription company. She took time off from her career to raise her daughter, but during that period taught music, journalism, drama and cooking at a K-8 school in southern California.

In 2011, she published “A Song for Sarah,” a children’s book about a “ditzy angel who loves to sing” but gets lost on her way to join a heavenly choir on Christmas.

Broderick moved from California to Utah several years ago following her husband’s sudden death from an undiagnosed enlarged heart. The family had vacationed many times in Utah, and Broderick said she had a distinct feeling she was supposed to move to South Jordan.

Her move to Utah coincided with a growing disillusionment with the GOP, as she noticed a rising tide of xenophobia and callousness toward poor and marginalized communities. She gravitated toward the United Utah Party after she and her daughter, Elizabeth, in 2017 attended a Utah state Capitol rally where Davis laid out his vision for a third party emphasizing civility and compromise.

If elected to Utah’s congressional delegation, Broderick said she would speak out against President Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric.

“These are not Utah values,” she said.

Broderick said she’s also in favor of strengthening transparency in campaign finance reporting as a way of weakening the influence of special interests in government. Her campaign will reject contributions from large corporate interests, including large insurance or pharmaceutical companies and the National Rifle Association. She said she will accept donations from individuals and small or local businesses.