Utah Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert says he will join the growing field of Republicans running for the nomination and the right to face Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams in 2020.
Hemmert, an Orem Republican and vice president and owner of 23 Red Hanger Cleaners laundry and dry cleaners, said he’s running because the 4th Congressional District “needs a strong representative in Washington who will fight for Utah’s common-sense conservative values like fiscal restraint, less government intrusion and free market economic principles.”
Although McAdams, the former mayor of Salt Lake County, is a member of the Blue Dog group of moderate Democrats, Hemmert has joined many Republicans running in 2020 who have adopted an anti-socialism platform. He held up liberal freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, as the new face of the Democratic Party.
“Now more than ever, we need a representative who will not just be a rubber stamp for Democrat socialists like AOC and their radical agenda.”
Hemmert touted his experience as a successful business owner, saying he wants to “make sure that opportunities for security, prosperity and advancement are available to our children and to future generations.”
Hemmert made the announcement on Twitter and through a news release. He did not return requests for comment to The Salt Lake Tribune.
In addition to his dry-cleaning business, he is an owner, manager and investor in a large array of companies, from restaurants to real estate.
Appointed to fill a vacancy in 2016, Hemmert won the election that year for a shortened two-year stint and now is in his first full term as a senator after winning the 2018 primary against conservative firebrand Morgan Philpot, who lashed him over gathering signatures to get on the ballot.
In his relatively short time in the Capitol, Hemmert has speedily risen in the ranks to his leadership post, third ranking in the Senate.
Among his legislative interests, he was a vocal opponent of the full Medicaid expansion approved by voters and instead promoted the scaled-back version implemented by lawmakers to replace it — what he called the “Utah solution.”
In explaining his stance in a Tribune opinion piece, he said full-blown Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act would have meant that “from now on, Medicaid becomes Utah’s first and only real funding priority. Education, roads, public safety, aging services, and any other worthy endeavor you can name — Medicaid surpasses them all.”
He also was among senators who tried to distance themselves from the tax reform plan, taxing services, that was abandoned in the last session. “House Bill 441 is over, failed, done,” Hemmert said. “It is far from the starting place.”
He was a supporter of allowing depleted uranium to be buried at the EnergySolutions landfill in Tooele County. And he sponsored a bill late in this year’s legislative session, SB266, that would have allowed a Class V industrial waste landfill to receive a state permit without assessment or approval of the state division over waste management. The bill died without a hearing.
McAdams is in his first term in the Republican-leaning district straddling the Salt Lake-Utah county line after defeating two-term Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and the only black female Republican in Congress.