Utah Debate Commission announces primary, general election debates

Five debates are scheduled ahead of the June 28 Republican primaries.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart is facing his first-ever primary election against Erin Rider in June. The Utah Debate Commission announced a slate of five debates on June 1 and 2 ahead of the GOP primaries.

Debate season in Utah gets underway on June 1 and 2 with a quintet of Republican primary debates for Congress and the U.S. Senate in Salt Lake City.

The Utah Debate Commission announced a trio of Congressional debates for Districts 2, 3 and 4 on June 1 in Salt Lake City, with the District 1 and U.S. Senate debates the following day. Every Utah congressional incumbent has been forced into a primary this year.

Sen. Mike Lee, who overwhelmingly won the support of Republican delegates at Saturday’s GOP State Convention, takes the debate stage against Becky Edwards and Ally Isom. Both Edwards and Isom avoided elimination at the hands of delegates by gathering signatures. This is the first primary for Lee since 2010, when he finished second at the GOP convention behind Tim Bridgewater. Lee won that primary election by just 4,600 votes.

Incumbent Chris Stewart faces his first-ever primary election against Erin Rider in CD2. Rider used the signature route to prevent Stewart from wrapping up the nomination at Saturday’s convention.

Third District incumbent John Curtis narrowly squeaked into a primary after Chris Herrod fell short of winning the GOP nomination outright at the state convention. This will be the third time Curtis and Herrod have faced each other in a primary. In 2017, Curtis, Herrod and Tanner Ainge were in a three-way election after former Rep. Jason Chaffetz resigned suddenly. Curtis won with 43%. The following year Curtis crushed Herrod in the primary with more than 70% of the vote.

In the 4th District, challenger Jake Hunsaker grabbed enough signatures to force a primary with incumbent Burgess Owens, who won the convention vote on Saturday.

The First District primary is another three-way race. Incumbent Blake Moore and Tina Cannon used the signature route to get to the primary, while Andrew Badger got the most support from GOP delegates to advance him to June’s election.

The Debate Commission also announced the fall debate schedule ahead of the November election. The five contests are scheduled for college campuses around the state, beginning with the U.S. Senate debate at Utah Valley University on Oct. 4. The winner of the GOP primary will face independent Evan McMullin head-to-head as Utah Democrats opted not to nominate a candidate in the race.

The CD3 debate is scheduled for Oct. 6 at Brigham Young University. Weber State University hosts the CD1 debate on Oct. 10. The debate for 4th District candidates is on Oct. 12 at the University of Utah, while the 2nd District event is slated for Southern Utah University on Oct. 14.