Donald Trump Jr. campaigned Thursday in Sandy with Utah’s 4th Congressional District candidate Burgess Owens and commemorated the upcoming Pioneer Day holiday.

Owens, a former NFL player originally from Tallahassee, FL, and founder of a nonprofit that assists incarcerated youths, won the Republican nomination for the seat during Utah’s June 30 primary, defeating former Utah Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, former talk radio host Jay “JayMac” McFarland and entrepreneur Trent Christensen.

“This (Trump) family is going to go down in history as having such a big impact on our nation,” Owens said as he introduced Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is Trump Jr.’s girlfriend.

Trump Jr., the eldest child of President Donald Trump, met with Owens and a few dozen of Owens’ campaign volunteers at Colonial Flag in Sandy and thanked the volunteers for supporting the Republican candidate.

“Burgess, I want to congratulate you on everything,” Trump Jr. said. “It’s truly an amazing story, given what tomorrow is for the state of Utah and for the LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) community. Who is more of a pioneer than this? I mean, this is truly a modern-day pioneer story; to leave the south to come out here.”

“It’s awesome to see someone like you, Burgess, to step up, to go in and be fearless,” Trump Jr. continued. “To be a pioneer. To say what needs to be said, to do what needs to be done. To do that despite the resistance that you’re going to get as a conservative, even in this state, from our friends in the media and others. It’s truly awesome to watch that.”

Trump Jr. said he saw Owens’ background as “similar to my father’s” in the sense that Owens has had a successful life and “doesn’t need this job.”

“You can only throw stones from the sideline for so long before you actually have to get in the game,” he said. “And we need more of you that are willing to get in the game, whose turn it’s not, where it isn’t just the natural progression.”

Two of Owens’ Republican primary opponents, Coleman and Christensen, attended Thursday’s event in support of the candidate.

During a conference call with reporters on Thursday before the event in Sandy, Trump Jr. said he came to Utah ahead of Pioneer Day to “highlight the Trumps’ commitment to preserve (the) American freedoms (and) values ... (of) members of the LDS community” and “recognize how the LDS faith has contributed to shape this nation through their pioneering spirit.”

“While in Washington, D.C. they may call people like my father and myself outsiders, here in the West, they actually call … (us) pioneers,” Trump Jr. said. “Outsiders and pioneers are people who embody the innovative spirit, curiosity and optimism that’s uniquely American.”

Trump Jr. said Pioneer Day is a celebration of “the brilliance, bravery and perseverance that makes up the LDS community, and the freedoms that allow every person to worship freely and embrace the American dream.”

“Protecting those freedoms is at stake (on) Election Day,” he said, adding that former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was “too busy embracing the radical socialist agenda” and “clearly more worried about undermining America’s fundamental freedoms and appeasing the far left, and ultimately not really (interested in) standing up for religious communities who embody the true American spirit.”

Owens, who repeated Thursday that he is running to win back the United States House of Representatives from Democrats, will compete against incumbent U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, during the November general election.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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