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Curtis, Herrod square off in congressional primary debate

By Kelcie Hartley - | May 27, 2022

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

From left on stage, Utah GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen, Rep. John Curtis and Chris Herrod participate in the 3rd Congressional District debate at Brigham Young University on Friday, May 27, 2022.

Third Congressional District incumbent Rep. John Curtis and his challenger, Chris Herrod, participated in a last-minute debate hosted by the Utah Republican Party at Brigham Young University on Friday.

The debate was announced on Thursday. The GOP hosted the debate as an alternative to the Utah Debate Commission organized events — scheduled for next Wednesday when Curtis will be out of the country.

Moderating the debate was Utah GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen. Each candidate received two minutes to respond to questions and one minute for opening and closing statements.

The debate kicked off with a question regarding the “30×30 Initiative,” which would have 30% of U.S. land and water under conservation by 2030, and their plans regarding Utah’s energy development, mineral extraction and recreation on federal lands.

“This is a big difference between Curtis and I. I think we need to defeat the radical global warming agenda. It will destroy America. There are groups want us to not develop our natural resources,” Herrod said.

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Rep. John Curtis, left, speaks during the 3rd Congressional District debate at Brigham Young University on Friday, May 27, 2022, as Chris Herrod listens.

Herrod continued by saying children need to be taught that global warming is replacing communism — as it is more about control than science.

Curtis was given a 45-second rebuttal at the end of his response due to Herrod’s “attack” on Curtis in his speech. There was some back-and-forth whether the statement constituted an attack, but Jorgensen ruled it was.

Curtis clarified that the original question was referring to how to handle federal overreach.

“The answer is not executive orders,” he said. “The answer is congressional legislation. The three county commissioners (in Emory County) would tell you it’s the best thing that’s ever happened in the county because we gave them certainty and put into legislation over one million acres. That is how we defeat the government — through legislation.”

Curtis added that he spoke at the Huston Petroleum Club as a keynote speaker regarding energy independence.

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Candidate Chris Herrod, right, speaks during the 3rd Congressional District debate at Brigham Young University on Friday, May 27, 2022, as Rep. John Curtis listens.

“I have been preaching we can have energy independence, affordable prices, reliable energy and reduce submissions at the same time,” he said. “They are not mutually exclusive.”

Environmental policy wasn’t the only place Herrod pointed to Curtis’s record. Candidates were also asked their views on having “a strong border” and broader immigration policy.

Harrod openly said he was going to lose out on 45 seconds, due to pre-set rules around personal “attacks,” but he had to mention Curtis again.

“This is where John and I have a big difference,” he said. “When John was mayor of Provo, his police chief met with the Salt Lake City police chief and said they wouldn’t enforce immigration law.”

Herrod added that there should be a push to “build the wall” on the U.S border with Mexico. “Most legal immigrants have strong feelings against illegal immigration, and yet, over the last 10 years whenever we’ve have tried to do something, people have stood up and not allowed us,” he said.

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Rep. John Curtis recites the Pledge of Allegiance before the 3rd Congressional District debate at Brigham Young University on Friday, May 27, 2022.

In Curtis’ rebuttal, he reiterated he has spent time at the U.S. borders and has “put his neck out there” trying to find proposals to solve immigration issues.

While the dozens of interested residents and supporters were mostly quiet, they were audibly taken aback by one of Herrod’s suggestions as to where government spending should be cut.

“It is cutting out the departments that shouldn’t be there,” said Herrod. “The department of education is one of them. We have to be honest about what is really dragging. I do believe we can get to a balanced budget.” He also discussed turning DOE funds into block grants.

“We are at a point where we need bold ideas,” he said. “I mean, look at what’s being taught like critical race theory. Now is a great time for education reform.”

Curtis took a less drastic approach with federal spending cuts. His answer to was to stop having members of the state constantly requesting money for personal programs.

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Candidate Chris Herrod speaks during the 3rd Congressional District debate at Brigham Young University on Friday, May 27, 2022.

“What happens to a member of congress all day long?” Curtis asked. “Members of our state come to us and say please spend money on my program. Where we stop is having voters must stop asking for that because we’re going to give you what you asked for.”

His other suggestions included electing the right people and enacting a baseline budget.

Both candidates expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to be at the debate. The GOP primary election will be held June 28.

Rep. John Curtis, left, smiles as Chris Herrod answers a question during the 3rd Congressional District debate at Brigham Young University on Friday, May 27, 2022.

Candidate Chris Herrod speaks during the 3rd Congressional District debate at Brigham Young University on Friday, May 27, 2022.

Rep. John Curtis speaks during the 3rd Congressional District debate at Brigham Young University on Friday, May 27, 2022.

Utah GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen looks at his notes during the 3rd Congressional District debate at Brigham Young University on Friday, May 27, 2022. Jorgensen moderated the debate.

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