Burgess Owens maintains his lead in Utah’s 4th Congressional District

4th Congressional District Republican candidate Burgess Owens speaks during an Utah Debate Commission debate against Democratic Utah Congressman Ben McAdams on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (Kristin Murphy/ Deseret News, via AP, Pool)

Republican Burgess Owens maintained his lead over Rep. Ben McAdams for the fifth day in a row on Wednesday as new ballot results were posted from Salt Lake County.

Owens now has a 1,697 vote advantage over McAdams, with 47.50% of the vote to the Salt Lake City Democrat’s 47.03%. But it may not be clear who’s won the closely-watched race until the final canvass Nov. 17.

Still, Owens' campaign said Wednesday that his camp was feeling “very optimistic” about the results that have come in so far.

“We’re confident when the race is called that Burgess Owens will be representing the 4th district in Washington,” Owens' campaign spokesman, Jesse Ranney, said in a written statement.

Andrew Roberts, McAdams' campaign manager, noted in a statement that there are “still many thousands of ballots to be counted.”

“Congressman McAdams was behind at this same point during the 2018 election and ended up as the winner," he said. "We are awaiting the next update.”

McAdams, the former Salt Lake County mayor, took an early lead in the close race on Election Day and held onto it for much of last week. But Owens, a former NFL player and frequent Fox News commentator, pulled ahead Saturday and has remained the top vote getter since then. On Tuesday, he was ahead by 1,780 votes.

Voters in Utah’s 4th Congressional District are no stranger to long elections. The 2018 race between McAdams and Republican incumbent Rep. Mia Love lasted until the final canvass that takes place two weeks after ballots are cast, when McAdams ultimately won by fewer than 700 votes.

The 4th District straddles Salt Lake and Utah counties and also includes portions of the much smaller Juab and Sanpete counties. Owens has performed better in the latter three counties, while McAdams has earned a higher percentage of the votes in Salt Lake County, where he served as county mayor before his election to Congress.

But in a possible sign of trouble, McAdams has seen his advantage in Salt Lake County dwindle over the past few days. While he was previously averaging about 54% of the vote there, he’d brought in a smaller 51.93% as of Wednesday. Owens has earned 42.54% of all votes in the county.

In the more conservative Utah County, McAdams has brought in 26.67% of the votes while Owens has earned 67.06%.

Utah County, which did not post any new ballots Wednesday, has previously estimated there were a few hundred votes remaining to be counted in the 4th Congressional District.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said Tuesday that there could be as many as 29,000 ballots remaining in Salt Lake County to count, including provisional ballots, but it was not immediately clear how many were left as of Wednesday, or how many of them were in the 4th District.

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