UtahPolicy.com has learned that KSL radio talk show host Jay Mcfarland is prepping a possible run for Congress in Utah’s 4th Congressional District as a Republican challenging freshman Democrat Ben McAdams.
Several sources tell UtahPolicy.com Mcfarland met with members of Utah’s Congressional delegation and their staffers last week in Washington DC to discuss his plans. Sources with knowledge of those conversations say Mcfarland is waiting to announce his candidacy until later this summer.
McFarland confirmed his interest in running when contacted by UtahPolicy.com on Saturday.
“I have been approached by a number of people asking me to run and so I am taking a serious look at it. I have formed an exploratory committee with this in mind,” said McFarland via text message.
Mcfarland also said he had hired political consultants to assist him in preparation for a run.
Mcfarland has been an on-air personality for KSL since 2010. According to his station bio, he has authored two books.
McFarland is likely waiting to make his intentions public as it could result in KSL removing him from their on-air lineup. In 2005 former talk show host Doug Wright was dancing around a potential run against then-Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson. KSL told Wright he would have to step away from his show if he ran following a number of very public complaints by Matheson’s campaign. Wright later declared he would not run.
In 2011, KSL booted weekend host Charlie Luke from the air after he was mentioned in a newspaper article as a possible candidate for Salt Lake City Council.
KSL program director Kevin LaRue did not respond to a request for comment.
McFarland is the latest entrant into what threatens to be a very crowded campaign for the Republican nomination to face McAdams in November of 2020. Already, GOP activist Kathleen Anderson announced her entry into the contest on Friday. State Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, is said to be readying her campaign announcement soon. Other candidates said to be considering a run in 2020 are Senate Majority Whip Daniel Hemmert, R-Orem, State Rep. Jefferson Moss, R-Saratoga Springs, and Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie. Some have suggested former Rep. Mia Love, who lost the seat to McAdams in 2018, may be considering a rematch against McAdams next year, but sources close to Love say that’s not likely.
State Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, announced earlier in June he would not run against McAdams as was widely expected.
McAdams is seen as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the 2020 election cycle. UT04 is one of the most Republican districts in the country, having a partisan lean of R+13, meaning it is 13-points more Republican than the national average. It is one of 31 districts that President Donald Trump won in 2016 but is represented by a Democrat in Congress. National Republicans consider the district one of their top priorities in the 2020 election, especially since McAdams only defeated love by 694 votes.