SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The Dignity Index has released scores following the U.S. 4th District Congressional Debate featuring Democratic challenger Darlene McDonald and United Utah Party independent January Walker. The scores also include ratings for third-party ads.
Burgess Owens did not appear at the 4th Dist. Congressional Debate, after boycotting the debate due to the moderator’s affiliation with the Salt Lake Tribune and a political cartoon posted in the newspaper in 2021.
Below are the most recent scores after the debate:
U.S. House of Representatives District 4
Burgess Owens (R) – AVG 4.25 (Last AVG reported: 4)
Owens’s boycott of the debate meant he was not judged as heavily as his opponents. The Dignity Index still rated Owens on his comments made in a video released on YouTube where he addresses his boycott.
- 3 – Owens drew a score of contempt after calling the Salt Lake Tribune “racist.” In the video, he says “I expect bias from such a liberal outlet, but racism is where I draw the line. I will also not be bullied into participating in a forum of unabashed bigots.”
- 6 – Speaking directly to his opponent, Darlene McDonald, Owens earned a score of dignity by saying “While we may disagree politically, I have nothing but respect for you.” In the same comment, Owens extended an invitation to McDonald where the two could speak publicly.
Darlene McDonald (D) – AVG 4.57 (Last AVG reported: 3.5)
- 5 – McDonald earned the score after making comments about having everyone at the table. In the debate, she said, “One of the good things that I will say about the Republican Party is being able to provide a check on the Democrats.”
- 6 – McDonald earned a favorable score after saying, “It is okay to have difference of opinions about politics. It is not okay to use that as a personal attack against your neighbor.” McDonald may have lost points when she closed her thoughts by saying “but we don’t have that today in our current politics because it’s always about getting one up over the other.”
- 7 – The best score for McDonald during the debate came after she called for required representation from everybody. “A one-party state cannot solve this problem. A one-party Congress cannot solve this problem. We all must work together to solve this.”
- 3 – McDonald’s lowest score came after she shared criticism of the Republican party saying, “They use the immigration crisis as a political wedge issue. We are talking about human beings, not a football. These are human beings and cannot be used as your political football.” She then called for coming together to sit down and talk about immigration to solve the problem.
- 4 – McDonald was scored another contempt score after calling her opponent, Burgess Owens “cowardly.” In her statement, she said, “If you think that someone is bullying you and you think that they are racist, then you stand up to them.” McDonald said that’s what she would have done and Owens should have done the same.
January Walker (United Utah) – AVG 4.8 (Last AVG reported: N/A)
- 5 – Walker’s first score comes in response to police, saying that we just need “adjust our approach.” In her comments, she says we “expect them to go through incredibly difficult jobs and face danger every single day.” She says this has created a population that has high levels of stress and fear.
- 6 – Walker earned a dignified score after speaking about how she and her party are trying to bridge the gaps of party divide by asking people one thing they like about the opposing party. In her statement, she says she appreciates how Democrats try to make everyone feel heard and included and how Republicans champion fiscal responsibility.
- 6 – Walker earned this score by criticizing how election deniers have been managed. “Instead of going through and trying to find solutions in which we could bridge the divide, instead we told them to sit down and to be quiet and accept the election results without offering real viable solutions for the future.” Walker continued by saying she went and talked to election deniers and asked what it would take for them to have confidence in elections again.
- 3 – Walker’s lowest score came after stating that there is a divide in politics. She criticized both major parties by likening them to “parasites” that fed off each other and profiteer off the problems Americans face. Walker said, “It doesn’t matter in this day and age if you choose to vote for a Democratic or Republican anymore because the result and the solutions that come from them will be the exact same that we’ve seen for decades.”
- 4 – Walker earned another score of contempt after saying Rep. Owens had “displayed cowardice” by not appearing at the debate. She criticized Owens by saying he has been in a controlled environment for two years and accused him of not being to “speak clearly and concisely.”
Third-party ads from Club for Growth and Put Utah First were also rated in this week’s scores. Club for Growth and Put Utah First have run ads in favor of Republican Sen. Mike Lee and Independent candidate Evan McMullin, respectively.
Both scored low, within the “contempt” range, with Put Utah First earning the only score in the “dignified” range. After six messages were scored, Club for Growth averaged a 3.33 score while Put Utah First averaged a 4 — both just below the line of contempt.