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A voter’s guide to the candidates on the 2020 ballot

With only six weeks until Election Day, The Forum is launching its ‘2020 Vision: Election Watch’ countdown to inform our audience of the biggest issues they’ll vote on this year. 

Here’s a comprehensive list of the big names Utahns will see on their ballots this year — ranging from the presidential race to Utah’s statewide and congressional offices.

Jump to:

Presidential race
Utah governor’s race
Utah’s 1st Congressional District
Utah’s 2nd Congressional District
Utah’s 3rd Congressional District
Utah’s 4th Congressional District
Utah’s attorney general


PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Republican Party


Name: Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States

Party: Republican

Race: Presidential 


  • Former reality TV show host and real estate city developer in New York City. 
  • Never ran for political office before his 2016 presidential campaign.
  • Known for key policy initiatives that withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal, established the Space Force and passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
  • Third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

Health Care

  • President Trump’s main healthcare policy initiative has been to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which was established under former president Barack Obama.
  • The Trump Administration seeks to replace the ACA, noting it will force insurance companies to compete for lower prices and higher-quality care. However, he promised it would still maintain protections for those with pre-existing conditions.
  • The White House has pressed the Supreme Court to overturn the ACA — but the GOP hasn’t agreed upon a replacement plan. 

Student Debt

  • Suspended student loan payments and temporarily set interest rates to zero during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • President Trump, along with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, have expressed support for student loan forgiveness through income-driven repayment plans — rather than widespread student loan forgiveness for all borrowers. 

Environment

  • President Trump has focused on eliminating Obama-era environmental regulations, directing the Environmental Protection Agency to rewrite or repeal the Clean Power Plan — an initiative aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
  • In 2017, the Trump Administration reduced two national monuments in Utah: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante.
  • In 2017, Trump announced he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement — an international initiative to reduce the impacts of human-caused climate change.

RUNNING MATE: 


Name: Mike Pence, 48th vice president

Party: Republican

Race: Vice presidential


  • Current vice president and former governor of Indiana. 
  • Served as a Republican in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013. 
  • Head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Democratic Party

Name: Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States

Party: Democratic

Race: Presidential


  • Former vice president of the United States and six-term senator from Delaware.
  • Previously ran for president in 1998 and 2008. 
  • If elected, Biden would serve as the oldest president in U.S. history — assuming office at 78 years old. 

Health Care: 

  • Served as vice president when the Affordable Care Act was passed under former president Barack Obama. 
  • Biden’s policy notes that instead of eliminating private insurance, he would build on the ACA to give a “public health care insurance option like Medicare.” However, he said he does not support Medicare for All. 
  • Under Biden’s policy, he says he plans to increase access to contraception and defend the “constitutional right to abortion.” As part of that, Biden vows to restore federal funding to Planned Parenthood. 

Student Debt: 

  • Vows to make four-year public universities free for families with annual incomes that are below $125,000. 
  • Seeks to create a program that offers up to $10,000 in student debt relief for every year of national or community service for up to five years.

Environment: 

  • Biden said he supports the Green New Deal, which outlines plans to address human-caused climate change — while acknowledging the environment and the economy are “totally connected.”
  • Vows to reach a 100% clean energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050. 
  • Plans to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, while promising to push the initiatives further. 

RUNNING MATE: 

Name: Kamala Harris, California senator

Party: Democratic

Race: Vice Presidential 


  • Senator from California and former Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 election.
  • Second Black woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate and first Asian-American senator in history. 
  • Served as district attorney of San Francisco as well as the California attorney general. 

GOVERNOR’S RACE

Republican Party

Name: Spencer Cox, lieutenant governor

Party: Republican

Race: Utah governor


  • Current lieutenant governor and head of the Utah Coronavirus Community Task Force.
  • Former member of the Utah House of Representatives, representing District 58. 
  • Secured a tight victory at the 2020 GOP primary for governor, defeating Jon Huntsman by 6,322 votes.

Health Care: 

  • Cox has framed himself as “unapologetically pro-life,” opposing abortion — making exceptions for rape, incest or concern for the mother’s life. 
  • He has received criticism from his Democratic opponent for his work as the head of the state coronavirus task force, particularly on the lack of a mask mandate.
  • Vows to increase government policies that support families, which he said is an immediate influence on health and well-being.

Education: 

  • Notes education would be the primary focus of the Cox Administration, seeking increased accountability from elected officials in regards to education. 
  • Vows to minimize federal involvement in state education, calling it a “state and local prerogative.”
  • Under his policy, Cox said he wants fair compensation for teachers and to provide equal accessibility to students. 

Environment: 

  • Vows to prioritize economic development in rural Utah, increasing state jobs in rural areas. 

RUNNING MATE: 


Name: Deidre Henderson, state senator

Party: Republican

Race: Lieutenant governor


  • Serves in the Utah Senate representing District 7.
  • If elected, Henderson would become the second female lieutenant governor in state history.
  • Prioritizes government transparency, conservative tax policies and increased success for small businesses in Utah. 

Democratic Party

Name: Chris Peterson, Law professor at the University of Utah

Party: Democratic

Race: Utah governor


  • Former special adviser for the U.S. Department of Defense .
  • Served in the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Has not held elected office before running for Utah’s governor.

You can listen to a full profile on Chris Peterson and Karina Brown in an episode of Behind the Ballot. 

Health Care: 

  • Peterson refers to health care as a “basic human right,” vowing to expand access to affordable healthcare to Utahns if elected.
  • Has called for Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox to step down from the Utah Coronavirus Community Task Force, criticizing the state for “not getting the job done.” For months, Peterson has called for a statewide mask mandate and increased contact tracing. 

Education: 

  • Prioritizes reinvesting in higher education with federal and state funding — vowing to put pressure on university administrators to lower tuition and fees.
  • Vows to ensure student loan payments are collected in a “fair and efficient way.” 
  • Seeks to increase teacher compensation and provide access to school resources and supplies. 

Environment: 

  • Vows to reduce air pollution by transitioning to a clean energy economy — while preserving national and state parks.
  • As part of his policy, Peterson said he would seek to incentivize a transition to plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles to produce little-to-no emissions.
  • Would prioritize a “realistic goal” of net-zero emissions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

RUNNING MATE: 


Name: Karina Brown

Party: Democratic

Race: Lieutenant governor


  • Citizen sponsor of Proposition 3, which expands Medicaid coverage throughout the state of Utah.
  • Co-chair of Cache Celebration of Women’s Suffrage 2020, an organization working to celebrate the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote.

UTAH’S 1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Republican Party

Name: Blake Moore

Party: Republican

Race: Utah’s 1st Congressional District


  • Former international health consultant with DocBerry International, LLC.
  • Served as a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State.
  • No previous experience in elected office.

Health Care: 

  • Vows to replace the Affordable Care Act with a market-driven solution. 
  • Would prioritize lower costs with increased health care choices, while allowing people to opt for private coverage if they choose. 

Education: 

  • Prioritizes limiting the federal government in the state education system. 
  • Calls on colleges and universities to provide “relevant and affordable education.”

Environment: 

  • Vows to prioritize tourism, recreation, energy, conservation and agricultural opportunity. 
  • Moore said he seeks to prioritize states’ rights and local decision making when it comes to public lands. 

Democratic Party

Name: Darren Parry

Party: Democratic

Race: Utah’s 1st Congressional District


  • Tribal leader of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.
  • Serves on the Board of Directors for the American West Heritage Center.
  • Teaches American Indian History at Utah State University.

Health Care: 

  • Calls for universal coverage for certain conditions and illnesses, such as disabilities and other pre-existing conditions.
  • Would prioritize mental health, vowing to create rehab centers, counseling and group therapy. 
  • Believes in hospitals and private health care practices sharing tax records for transparency. 

Education: 

  • Vows to create a “public education system for everyone.”

Environment: 

  • Supports a carbon tax that would hold “the biggest polluters accountable” for environmental damage. 
  • Calls climate change the “single greatest threat to the world.” 
  • Would adopt goals that seek to reduce emissions while funding air quality solutions. 

UTAH’S 2ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Republican Party

Name: Chris Stewart

Party: Republican

Race: Utah’s 2nd Congressional District


  • Current representative of Utah’s 2nd Congressional District since 2013. 
  • Owner of the Shipley Group, an environmental law consultation agency. 
  • Voted “No” to impeach President Donald Trump. 

Health Care: 

  • Vows to defund, repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — calling it the largest tax increase for Americans.
  • Voted for full repeal of Obamacare in May 2013, co-sponsoring House Bill 2682: “Defund Obamacare Act.”
  • Co-sponsored the American Healthcare Reform Act to replace the ACA, increasing competition to lower health care costs and providing tax reform. 

Education: 

  • Would seek decisions on education being made on the state and local level. 
  • Passed legislation in 2018 allowing land managers to exchange trust lands that are within federal conservation areas for other public lands that are better suited for public school revenue. 

Environment: 

  • Supports the “responsible development” of oil, clean coal, natural gas and other renewable energy options for economic growth. 
  • Introduced legislation in 2017 that would ensure access to national parks while preserving jobs. 

Democratic Party

Name: Kael Weston

Party: Democratic

Race: Utah’s 2nd Congressional District


  • Former writer-in-residence at Westminster College. 
  • Served for over a decade in the U.S. State Department, spending seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
  • Author of “The Mirror Test.”

You can listen to a full profile on Kael Weston in an episode of Behind the Ballot. 

Health Care: 

  • Seeks to make the Affordable Care Act more accessible, pushing to control costs and increase coverage for telemedicine and prescription drug prices. 
  • Supports the right for safe access to sexual and reproductive services. 
  • Vows to protect affordable health care for all Americans, prioritizing mental health coverage through the ACA. 

Education: 

  • Vows to consider student loan forgiveness based on indexing income and payback — removing private lenders and returning to government loans that protect students from predatory practices. 
  • Told The Forum he is still understanding “total forgiveness” similar to Bernie Sanders’ position, but said he believes it is the “right goal.”

Environment: 

  • Calls for the U.S. to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement and lead global efforts to curb the effects of human-caused climate change. 
  • Would prioritize clean air and access to water, focusing on clean energy to create more jobs. 

UTAH’S 3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Republican Party


Name: John Curtis

Party: Republican

Race: Utah’s 3rd Congressional District


  • Current Congressman representing Utah’s 3rd Congressional District since 2017.
  • Former mayor of Provo, Utah. 
  • Voted “No” to impeach President Donald Trump. 


Health Care: 

  • Believes in a free market healthcare system to reduce costs, while reducing government interference. 
  • Would seek to incentivize health care providers to manage health rather than focusing on treating illness. 
  • Believes individuals should be incentivized to use the health care system “wisely” by sharing accountability for maintaining health. 

Education: 

  • Wants to keep decisions on education local — made by teachers, parents and administrators — rather than the federal government. 
  • Passed legislation in 2019 that would require increased transparency from borrowers showing the “true cost” of a student loan before signing an agreement. 

Environment: 

  • Prioritizes ensuring rural communities can access economic development. 
  • According to his website, Curtis said he is dedicated to preserving and maintaining the national parks and recreational areas in Utah. 
  • Coins himself as a “climate conservative” noting the responsibility to “leave this Earth better than when we found it.”

Democratic Party

Name: Devin Thorpe

Party: Democratic

Race: Utah’s 3rd Congressional District


You can listen to a full profile on Devin Thorpe in an episode of Behind the Ballot. 

  • Best-selling author, speaker and new-media journalist. 
  • Hosted “Your Mark On The World” show where he interviewed individuals who say they have a commitment to change the world. 
  • Graduated from the University of Utah before receiving an MBA from Cornell University. 


Health Care: 

  • Defends Medicaid expansion in Utah, as well as the Affordable Care Act. 
  • Told The Forum he was a “big fan” of Medicare for All, but notes he is not committed to any specific model. However, his priority would be ensuring quality, affordable healthcare. 

Education: 

  • Commits to ensuring more federal funding toward education — reforming the student loan structure so the federal government doesn’t “profiteer” off loan debt. 
  • Emphasizes the importance of universal pre-K to ensure student success early on. 
  • Would prioritize reducing the cost of interest on student loans and expanding the Pell Grant — incentivizing affordability at universities across the country. 

Environment: 

  • Seeks to create jobs in clean energy, manufacturing and infrastructure amid climate change. 
  • Incentivize industries to move to clean energy models. 
  • Hints at rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement — which he told The Forum was “too little, too late” but the U.S. dropped out of it anyway.

UTAH’S 4TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Republican Party


Name: Burgess Owens

Party: Republican

Race: Utah’s 4th Congressional District


  • Former NFL player for the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders. 
  • Often appears on Fox News as a contributor. 
  • Endorsed by President Donald Trump after the GOP primary. 


Health Care: 

  • Seeks to replace the Affordable Care Act, arguing it “overburdened Medicare” and “forces people to receive health insurance.”
  • Prioritizes privatized healthcare, allowing Americans to choose their own plan — creating a competitive healthcare system. 
  • Would seek to lower costs of prescription drugs, allowing drug imports. 

Education: 

  • Believes the Department of Education has “outgrown” its original purpose.
  • Would hand decision-making power to the local level, primarily teachers and parents. 

Environment: 

  • It’s unclear on Owens’ campaign website what his stances are on environmental policies. 

Democratic Party

Name: Ben McAdams

Party: Democratic

Race: Utah’s 4th Congressional District


You can listen to a full profile on Ben McAdams in an episode of Behind the Ballot. 

  • Currently serves as the only Democrat representing Utah in Congress. 
  • Former mayor of Salt Lake County. 
  • Voted “Yes” to impeach President Donald Trump. 


Health Care: 

  • History of voting on legislation for families to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. 
  • McAdams told The Forum he supports Medicaid expansion in Utah, but does not support Medicare for All. 
  • Boosted legislation that seeks to create more resources for mental health professionals to reduce the number of suicides. 

Education: 

  • Supported legislation to increase transparency to student loan borrowers, including monthly disclosures. 
  • Advanced legislation to increase STEM learning in rural areas, providing access to classes in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics department.

Environment: 

  • Prioritizes moving toward a clean energy economy to combat climate change, particularly by investing in solar energy. 
  • Advanced legislation to target unhealthy ozone levels in the air, specifically along the Wasatch Front. 
  • Supports re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement to continue global efforts to reduce carbon emissions. 

ATTORNEY GENERAL 

Republican Party


Name: Sean Reyes

Party: Republican

Race: Attorney General


  • Currently serves as Utah’s attorney general since 2013. 
  • Spent 14 years as a lawyer at a Utah law firm. 
  • Spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention to endorse President Donald Trump. 


Health Care: 

  • Prioritizes fighting the opioid epidemic in Utah, seeking to eliminate stigma surrounding addiction. 
  • Promotes naloxone, a drug used to treat narcotic overdose.
  • Co-created the Safe UT mobile app to assist Utah students dealing with mental health crises.

Crime: 

  • Expresses his support of law enforcement of Utah, creating de-escalation protocols for officers during training. 
  • Advocated for increased mental health resources for law enforcement officers. 

Democratic Party

Name: Greg Skordas

Party: Democratic

Race: Utah Attorney General


You can listen to a full profile on Greg Skordas in an episode of Behind the Ballot. 

  • Worked as a Utah lawyer for 38 years. 
  • Spent eight years at the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office. 


Health Care: 

  • Seeks to reform the health care coverage system in Utah. He told The Forum if the GOP wants to undo the Affordable Care Act, it needs to present an adequate replacement. 
  • Seeks to expand Medicaid in Utah through Proposition 3, which was passed by a majority vote in 2018. 

Crime: 

  • Represents two of the largest police unions in the state of Utah. 
  • Does not support “defunding the police,” but advocates for police reform. 

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Cami Mondeaux
Cami Mondeaux is a senior communication major with a minor in sociology. Passionate about journalism, Cami has worked in the field for three years – completing internships at KSL NewsRadio, KUER 90.1 NPR Utah and The Washington Diplomat in Washington, D.C. She now covers breaking news for KSL NewsRadio with a focus on the 2020 election. Cami is excited to bring her skills to The Forum for her second year as editor-in-chief.

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