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Republican candidates for Utah’s open US House seat split on aid for Ukraine

SALT LAKE CITY — All five Republicans vying for Utah’s only open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives agreed in a debate Wednesday that they see an urgent need to reduce federal spending, but only some said they should make cuts. military aid to Ukraine would be an effective way to achieve that goal.

The crowded candidate pool is vying to represent Utah’s sprawling 3rd District, which spans the state’s entire eastern border and includes vastly different communities, from the winter resort of Park City to the urban center of Provo, to Red Rock. Moab Recreation Center.

At the April GOP Conventionstates that Sen. Mike Kennedy earned the official party nod for the seat that U.S. Rep. John Curtis is vacating to run for the United States Senate. But in a district that represents such a wide range of views and walks of life, Kennedy’s support from delegates, who tend to lean further right than Republican voters, may not be enough to get him through the June 25 primary. to guide.

He was joined on the debate stage Wednesday by four candidates who had already guaranteed their spot on the primary ballot before the convention by collecting signatures.

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic candidate Glenn Wright, a former Summit County councilman, in November. The Republican candidate is strongly favored to win in a district that has not been represented by a Democrat since 1997.

Among the Republican contenders is Stewart Peay, a lawyer and former U.S. Army captain from Alpine who is supported by his wife’s uncle, who is retiring. US Senator Mitt Romney. Although Peay previously said Romney’s endorsement was a breakthrough for his campaign, he presented himself Wednesday as more conservative than his famously moderate relative.

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State Auditor John Dougall similarly leaned on conservative talking points, despite building a social media strategy around his criticism of some Republican-backed legislation.

A series of sketches show Dougall reading a newspaper in the toilet and emerging from a toilet stall to express his frustrations at being the state official in charge of enforcing a ban on the use of public toilets for transgender people or changing rooms that do not correspond to their birth gender. He calls the state Legislature an “invasive and overly aggressive” body that he says too often fails to seek input from those most affected by policy.

Dougall’s “bathroom monitor” character has significantly increased his name recognition and has caught the attention of many moderate voters eager to support someone willing to challenge the Republican Party’s hardliners. But Dougall refrained from criticizing his party during the debate. Instead, he touted his anti-abortion positions and his years of auditing experience, which he said will help him reduce federal spending.

Cutting military aid to Ukraine as the country continues to fend off a Russian invasion is not the way to do that, he said.

Peay agreed and urged Congress to continue sending weapons and ammunition to help the Ukrainian military. He and Case Lawrence, founder of a nationwide empire of indoor trampoline parks, emphasized that withdrawing U.S. support would demonstrate weakness on the world stage.

“I don’t believe in foreign aid. I believe in foreign investment, investment in American interests,” Lawrence said. “Future assistance to Ukraine will be based on facts on the ground and how they affect U.S. interests.”

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Kennedy and J.R. Bird, mayor of the city of Roosevelt in northeastern Utah, said that while it pains them to see Ukraine devastated by war, it is not in the best interests of U.S. officials to continue funding their fight.

Republicans in Congress are also divided over whether to continue sending desperately needed weapons to Ukraine. The Ukrainian army suffered major setbacks during the war months of financing impasse on Capitol Hill and has since used up foreign aid faster than expected.

Bird, who promoted himself as the only candidate from a rural part of the district, said the U.S. should shift its focus from military funding to imposing tougher sanctions on Russia. He criticized President Joe Biden’s administration for what he sees as throwing money at the problem when there are more strategic ways for the U.S. to assert its influence.

Kennedy agreed, adding that he would urge the U.S. to seize Russian assets and “make them pay for the mess they have created for us.”

“We can’t be the world’s police officer,” Kennedy said. “We don’t have the money to do all this. Our grandchildren do not deserve to see us rack up more national debt to support international wars that are not directly in our national security interests.”

Wednesday concluded a marathon week of Republican primaries in Utah. Challengers for two of Utah’s four congressional seats faced off Monday, followed by the four Republicans vying for Romney’s open seat in the U.S. Senate. Candidates for governor and the attorney general’s open position was discussed Tuesday.

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