Republican and former NFL player Burgess Owens will defeat Democratic incumbent Rep. Ben McAdams in Utah’s 4th Congressional District race, CNN projected Tuesday.
McAdams’ loss is at least the ninth one this month for House Democrats, who CNN has projected will retain majority control of the chamber.
McAdams conceded the race Monday, saying in a video posted on YouTube that he had called Owens to congratulate him on winning “this hard-fought and close race.”
“My campaign was centered around a rejection of extremism and the need for leaders who will put the needs of the people they represent before any political party,” the former mayor of Salt Lake County said. “I am deeply humbled by the support I received from so many Utahns who share that vision and want them to know that while we did not prevail, I remain committed to that ideal.”
Owens, a staunch defender of President Donald Trump and a Fox News contributor, thanked Utah voters Monday night in a tweet and said, “I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve.”
“I promise to be an open ear for all Utahns and to serve with all I have. Now, it’s time to get to work,” he wrote.
He played for the New York Jets and later helped the Oakland Raiders win the Super Bowl Championship in 1981. The Republican campaigned to uphold conservative values, opposing abortion and vowing to protect American’s Second Amendment rights and secure the borders.
An internet archive of his campaign website in August showed that he supported a “full repeal” of the Affordable Care Act and later the website said, “Obamacare no longer needs to be repealed, but changes are necessary in the current healthcare plan.” When the change was brought up by McAdams during a debate in October, Owens acknowledged “tweaking” on the site and said he supports protections for people with preexisting conditions, noting that he is a prostate cancer survivor.
Owens has opposed NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality, saying during an interview with Sports Illustrated’s JetCountry.com in June that if league commissioner Roger Goodell allowed Colin Kaepernick to be signed to a team and the kneeling to continue, “I’m willing to not watch the game.”
He also said the idea that the US is a systemically racist country is “false” and wrote in a Wall Street Journal editorial in 2019 that the idea of reparations to Black Americans who are descendants of slavery “demeans America’s founding ideals.”
Trump, who had endorsed Owens, congratulated him on Saturday before CNN called the race, tweeting, “Great going Burgess, you continue to be a STAR!” Love also congratulated Owens, tweeting on Monday, “His integrity, leadership, selflessness, and honor are admirable.”
CNN has projected that Trump will win Utah, a state he also won in the 2016 presidential election.
McAdams – who was one of 14 House Democrats in May who voted against the HEROES Act, a more than $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that he felt spent too much money – expressed to CNN in August that he was frustrated with the lack of an agreement with the White House on a coronavirus stimulus deal. During an October debate with Owens, McAdams called for both parties to come to the table and make a deal.
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.