Thom Carter 01

The Republican field to take on freshman Democrat Ben McAdams in Utah’s 4th CD may not yet be set as national Republicans are reportedly scrambling to recruit another candidate following the abrupt exit of State Senator Dan Hemmert, who exited the race in December.

UtahPolicy.com has learned that despite five candidates currently in the race, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans, and the Republican National Committee have met with Thom Carter, the Executive Director of the Utah Clean Air Partnership, in an effort to convince him to jump into the race against McAdams. The organizations reached out to Carter the day after Hemmert announced he would no longer pursue the GOP nomination.

Carter acknowledged he has been approached to enter the race against McAdams but has not yet decided whether to take the plunge.

“Since having the first conversation with the party right before Christmas we have been looking seriously at the run,” said Carter. “ We agree with the RNC and the NRCC that this is a competitive seat, but only if we have the right candidate.”

Fundraising could be a significant hurdle for Carter should he decide to join the race. McAdams raised $900,000 during the most recent fundraising period and has nearly $1.8 million in the bank for the November contest. Carter would bring significant fundraising chops to the race, saying he has “soft” commitments totaling more than $100,000 if he jumps in.

Before he left the race, Hemmert was the presumptive frontrunner for the GOP nomination to take on McAdams as he had raised the most money among the field of prospective challengers. 

Despite the tacit endorsement of Carter from national Republicans, they will not get involved in a primary race and will wait for the nominee to be selected in June.

The recruitment of Carter by the RNC and NRCC suggests a lack of confidence in the remaining candidates to take on McAdams. State Rep. Kim Coleman has moved quickly to take the mantle of frontrunner after Hemmert’s exit, announcing an endorsement from Congressman Jim Jordan. But, that seemingly was not enough to convince the party establishment.

McAdams is seen as one of, if not the most vulnerable Democrat in Washington. UT04 is among the most Republican in the nation, with a partisan lean of R+13. McAdams barely triumphed in 2018 over former Rep. Mia Love by fewer than 700 votes. The race should be a competitive one for the eventual Republican nominee. But, the wooing of potential candidates this late in the election cycle indicates the GOP is not yet confident they can defeat McAdams in 2020.

Carter says if he decides to run, he would bring a wealth of experience that would aid him greatly in the race.

“Through my full-time job, I spend every day focused on some of the issues most important to the people of this district: air quality, growth, transportation, and infrastructure.  I have always felt a pull towards public service and I enjoyed the time I spent earlier in my career as an elected official,” he said.

Carter says he hopes to make a decision about running before the end of January.