PROVO, Utah (News4Utah) – Republican Congressman John Curtis is defending his seat less than a year after winning it. Chris Herrod, who finished in the last primary is now Curtis’ only opponent. The majority of the debate came down to who was the most conservative candidate.
The two seemed to agree that the free markets need to play a bigger part in the economy and more power needs to go back to the states.
Herrod attacked Rep. Curtis for not being conservative enough on the issues or his votes. Near the end of the debate Curtis gave a sharp rebuke.
“I’m getting a little tired of your brand of conservatism being the right brand,” said Rep. Curtis. “As if I don’t love the constitution or love this country as much as you do. I suppose from an extremist view everybody is a moderate.”
The congressman contends he is conservative, but also listens to constituents and gets things done.
The 3rd Congressional District is one of the most conservative in the state. Herrod accused Curtis of running as a conservative, and then not voting like one.
“There is a fundamental difference, and my frustration is that we can’t be honest,” said Herrod. “That’s fine if your a moderate or a liberal. That’s fine just own it.”
Morgan Lyon Cotti of the Hinckley Institute of Politics notes often times primary races are a contest between who can be more conservative or liberal depending on the party.
In Utah, she notes, voters can take a different path and it’s not always about labels.
“Utah is a pretty conservative place, but it’s also a pretty pragmatic place,” said Lyon Cotti. “Trying to appeal to voters for how you can serve them and how you have served them if you’re the incumbent is usually a better bet.”
With only two in the race this time around both candidates are hoping they can get the votes that went to Tanner Ainge who was the third candidate in the primary last year.