After a half-decade of representing Utah House District 42, Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, wants to bring her experience in the Utah State Legislature and within her community to Congress.
Coleman, who first took office in the state Legislature in January 2015, is one of four remaining Republican candidates vying to replace Democratic United States Rep. Ben McAdams — Utah’s only Democratic federal lawmaker — as the representative of Utah’s 4th Congressional District.
For the West Jordan politician, beating and replacing McAdams is about two things: one, bringing conservative leadership back to a predominantly Republican district and, two, inching the U.S. House of Representatives closer to being a GOP-majority body.
“It’s necessary to have the conservative representation,” Coleman said in an interview on Tuesday. “I’ll represent our home and our values and protect our America in Congress. But we’ve got to get … (the) other (Democrat-held) seats moving so that we can affect a conservative agenda through a majority in Congress. So they’re both kind of hand-in-hand (and) just as important.”
Despite his reputation for being a moderate Democrat willing to work with both sides of the aisle, Coleman said McAdams “has not shown to be an effective representative for the majority of the citizens and voters in CD4.”
In particular, Coleman said she’s opposed to the former Salt Lake County mayor’s vote to impeach President Donald Trump for allegedly pressuring Ukraine’s government to launch an investigation into the business dealings of Hunter Biden, son of former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and obstructing Congress from probing the investigation.
“The evidence for me is clear,” McAdams said during a press conference held on Dec. 16 to explain his vote. “The president abused the power of his office by demanding a foreign government perform a personal favor.”
Coleman said McAdams’ vote didn’t represent the will of the district, which covers parts of Utah, Salt Lake, Sanpete and Juab counties.
“The district was overwhelmingly against impeaching president Trump, and he did (vote for impeachment) nonetheless,” said Coleman. “Despite the incredible flaws in that process, he still voted to impeach the president.”
A Utah Policy poll in December found that 47% of Utahns believed Congress should not impeach Trump while 43% said Congress should, though the poll did not include a breakdown by region or district.
Coleman said her years of involvement in state politics has prepared her for a congressional run. She thinks of lawmaking as being “its own animal,” whether it’s at the state or federal level.
“For me, I think what I bring to the table as far as experience goes is (that) I’ve seen the tactics,” she said. “I’ve had my back put up against the wall. I’ve had carrots and sticks wielded at me. And I’ve proven that I will stick to my principles and vote along my principles and the values of my community and my constituents regardless of all those things.”
Coleman voted against a sweeping tax reform bill that the Legislature passed during a special session in December and that Gov. Gary Herbert and state lawmakers later repealed.
“And that was because I have a strong understanding of what makes good tax policy and what doesn’t,” said Coleman.
During her time in the Legislature, Coleman said she has become known as a “strong proponent of campus free speech,” as well as of deregulation in the public and private sectors.
“Utah has had a very poor record for burdensome over-regulation, especially in the areas of occupational licensing,” she said. “So I’ve worked with colleagues in reducing burdensome regulations in that area, as well as commercial regulations.”
Coleman sees herself more as a community advocate than a politician, citing her frequent involvement with neighborhood watch programs and parent-teacher associations.
“I’m sort of your next-door neighbor,” Coleman said. “I’m sort of the regular hometown candidate.”
Coleman received 54.5% of delegate votes after six rounds of ranked-choice voting during the Utah Republican Party’s April convention while 45.5% of delegates voted for former NFL player Burgess Owens. Two other GOP candidates, Jay “JayMac” McFarland and Trent Christensen, were eliminated at the convention but qualified for the June primary by collecting signatures.
The winner of the June 30 primary will advance to the general election in November and compete against McAdams, Libertarian Party candidate John Molnar and United Utah Party candidate Jonia Broderick.
“For some races in the state, the primary is the race,” Coleman said. “It’s a Republican-dominated district or a Democrat-dominated district, and getting through the primary is really the hurdle of the race. And in those races, you get to purely just pick the person you like the most, for what they stand for or whatever you feel about them. But in our race it’s interesting because it is a contested primary and a contested general.”