Republican challenger calls Rep. Owens a ‘coward’ for avoiding debates

May 31, 2022, 5:56 PM
Challenger Jake Hunsaker speaking outside of Burgess Owens office....
Challenger Jake Hunsaker speaking outside of Burgess Owens office.

DRAPER, Utah – The Republican challenger in Utah’s 4th Congressional District calls incumbent Rep. Burgess Owens a “coward” for not participating in upcoming debates.

Challenger Jake Hunsaker held a press conference outside Owens’s congressional office in Draper, Utah Tuesday afternoon. He spoke on Owens’s lack of participation and the Utah Republican Party for discouraging debates not sanctioned by the party.

The Utah Debate Commission scheduled a debate between Hunsaker and Owens for Wednesday, which Hunsaker is only attending.

“This, unfortunately, comes as no surprise to Congressional District Four voters like me,” Hunsaker told KSL-TV. “Owens has been absent from Utah since the day he took office. He’s afraid of tough questions. Nervous, he’ll incriminate himself.”

Hunsaker continued at the press conference claiming that Owens is using name recognition as his only tool to win the election.

“This is just another sign of my opponent views the entire electoral process as a threat to his game of toxic electoral politics rather than an essential piece of the American democracy,” Hunsaker said.

He also went after GOP leaders for not pushing candidates to debate in non-GOP sponsored debates.

“GOP leaders, don’t be a safe haven for absenteeism and cowardice,” Hunsaker said.

Earlier in May, GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen asked candidates not to participate in Utah Debate Commission debates.


The Facebook post from the Utah Republican Party on May 10th asking candidates to only debate in GOP sponsored events.

He claims that Owens has rejected four possible debates, but Owens’s campaign refutes these accusations.

“It’s unfortunate that our opponent has chosen to launch his political career by engaging in mudslinging and lies. The people of Utah deserve better,” Jesse Ranney, Owens campaign spokesman, told Deseret News. “These are desperate lies being spread by our political opponent.”

Ranney said they are looking for possible debate dates in June.

Chairman Jorgensen also spoke to Deseret News and said they tried to organize a debate between the two candidates, but Owens’s campaign didn’t give them a reason for not participating in their debate.

Jorgenson also calls Hunsaker’s strategy of attacking the Republican Party, “bold.”

“Hunsaker can come at the party all he wants, but we have gone above and out of our way to make sure that debates happen, and it’s probably not a good thing to start attacking the party right now,” he said.

Deseret News asked Jorgenson about Ranney’s June debate plan, but he hasn’t heard those plans.

Currently, the 4th Congressional District Republican race is the only Utah federal race without both candidates debating.

In the case of the 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Chris Stewart and challenger Erin Rider will not participate with Utah Debate Commission but will attend the Utah GOP-sponsored debate on Tuesday night on KRNS radio.

While Sen. Mike Lee will skip the commission debate leaving it to the two challengers, Becky Edwards and Ally Isom, to debate on Thursday, Lee will join them in the unannounced GOP’s sponsor debate.




KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories


MENDON, IL - JUNE 25: U.S. Representative Mary Miller (R-IL) cheers with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO)...
Associated Press

Hard-line conservative Reps. Boebert, Miller win primaries

Two of Congress’ staunchest conservatives repelled more centrist challengers to lock up Republican nominations on Tuesday.
16 hours ago
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Associate of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas (L) walks past criminal court on ...

Giuliani associate Parnas sentenced to 20 months in prison

An associate of Rudy Giuliani was sentenced Wednesday to a year and eight months in prison for fraud and campaign finance crimes.
16 hours ago
FILE: An exterior view of the U.S. Supreme Court building May 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by...
Associated Press

Justices say vet who lost job as Texas trooper can sue state

The Supreme Court is allowing a former state trooper to sue Texas over his claim that he was forced out of his job when he returned from Army service in Iraq.
16 hours ago
FILE: A woman with an  iPhone...
BARBARA ORTUTAY AP Technology Writer

EXPLAINER: Data privacy concerns emerge after Roe decision

With abortion now or soon to be illegal in over a dozen states and severely restricted in many more, Big Tech companies that collect personal details of their users are facing new calls to limit that tracking and surveillance.
16 hours ago
US President Joe Biden, speaks with Jens Stoltenberg (unseen) NATO Secretaty General at the NATO le...

US to boost military presence in Europe for Russia threat

President Joe Biden says the U.S. is enhancing its military presence in Europe for the long haul to bolster regional security after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
16 hours ago
Utah Rep. Burgess Owens. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)...

All 4 Utah House incumbents win GOP primaries

All four members of the U.S. House from Utah defeated Republican primary challengers Tuesday.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Republican challenger calls Rep. Owens a ‘coward’ for avoiding debates