In The News

In the News

Articles Featuring Board Members and the Utah Debate Commission


UTDC Co-Chair Thomas Wright and Hinckley Institute’s Jason Perry on KSL 5 TV Sunday Edition

The Utah Debate Commission Co-Chair Thomas Wright and Director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics join Doug Wright on KSL 5 TV’s Sunday Edition to talk about the 2020 Vice Presidential Debate that will be hosted at the University of Utah on October 7, 2020.

Click here to watch that interview


University of Utah to Host 2020 Vice Presidential Debate

The University of Utah and the Utah Debate Commission jointly submitted Utah’s winning bid

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced today that the University of Utah has been selected to host the vice presidential debate, at Kingsbury Hall in the Nancy Peery Marriott Auditorium. This is the first time a national debate will be hosted in Utah.

The Commission on Presidential Debates in a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and has sponsored all general election presidential and vice presidential debates since 1988.

“It is a tremendous honor to host a vice presidential debate and we are delighted to have this opportunity to showcase our university and our state,” said Ruth Watkins, president of the University of Utah. “I am excited for our students to be able to participate in this important component of the political process. It will be an incredible educational experience for them. Civic engagement is a core value of our democracy and students will be able to see firsthand how being involved in the political process matters.”

Utah is the only western state selected for one of three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate.

“Utah has a proven record of successfully hosting events on a large scale,” said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. “The 2002 Winter Olympics are widely considered to be the most economically successful in Olympic history. Our citizens have an excellent reputation for hospitality and Salt Lake City has a strong infrastructure for travel and tourism. We look forward to welcoming the 2020 candidates and media from across the world.”

“Utah has the opportunity to once again stand on the world stage to showcase our citizens, our values and our tremendous Utah lifestyle,” said Thomas Wright, co-chair of the Utah Debate Commission. “On behalf of the Utah Debate Commission and our University of Utah partners, I want to thank our state leaders for their vision, perseverance and hard work as well as all those who have supported the effort to host a debate in Utah.”

Additional details about the debates, including format and moderators, will be announced in 2020 by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

“It has always been the mission of the Hinckley Institute and the University of Utah to provide our students with unparalleled and transformative opportunities to learn about politics and become civically engaged,” said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics and vice president for Government Relations. “Hosting a 2020 vice presidential debate will allow us to accomplish both of these goals on a world stage.”

“The selection of Salt Lake City as a venue for a vice presidential debate offers residents throughout the state an especially unique opportunity for civic engagement,” said Karen Hale, co-chair of the Utah Debate Commission. “The national—and international—focus on a vice presidential debate here in Utah has the capacity to elevate residents’ curiosity and awareness about the issues and the candidates.”


Utah Debate Commission Co-Chair Thomas Wright on KSL Newsradio talking about the presidential bid

‘Mormon Land’: Church ‘specialists’ will be preaching political involvement, but will they be neutral and how might they change Utah’s partisan landscape?

Our board member Morgan Lyon Cotti, associate director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, is featured in this article. Click the headline to read the article.


3 Questions with Bob Evans: Jennifer Napier-Pearce, Editor of The Salt Lake Tribune

Bob Evans sat down with Jennifer Napier-Pearce, Editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, and asked her three questions:

  1. What is the value of having a locally-owned newspaper like the Tribune?
  2. The circulation is down for the print newspaper. And it’s not just at the Tribune. It’s all over the country. How are you managing that? How difficult is that to get through, and maintain profitability?
  3. How do you explain the fact, given the demographics of Utah, that your circulation is larger than the Deseret News’?

Jennifer Napier-Pearce is a board member with the Utah Debate Commission and the Salt Lake Tribune is one of our media partners.


Commission names 6 cities vying to host 2020 presidential debates

By KATIE GALIOTO Updated

Read here


10 pm: Utah will help select presidential nominees on Super Tuesday

CLICK HERE to read more.

Published: March 14 Updated: March 15, 2019


2018 Primary Debates Press Release


2018 General Debates Press Release


Utah Debate Commission To Host Debates Ahead Of November Elections

Sep 18, 2018, KCPW-NPR

With the election season in full swing, the Utah Debate Commission is scheduled to host several candidate debates–including some that will be carried live by KPCW.

CLICK HERE to read more

Carol McNamara: There’s plenty to debate in Utah’s 1st District Congressional race

Debate is, or should be, the civil and serious exchange of ideas and arguments among candidates about the priorities of the community they seek to represent and the practical solutions that best address that community’s chief concerns —not exactly what we are getting in this strange political year in the presidential campaign and debates so far.

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Nena Slighting, Director of the Utah Debate Commission, discusses the 2016 Debate Schedule on ComCast Newsmakers

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2016 Deseret News and Utah Debate Commission Debate Watch and Election Guide

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University Students Ask Questions of the Registered Political Parties in Utah

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Richard Davis: The debates are coming: Why not take advantage of them?

Voters should take advantage of the opportunity to hear from candidates in order to make a more informed decision.

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Utah Debate Commission Co-Chairman, Senator Bob Bennett, addresses the press at our press release on the steps of the Utah State Capitol.

Utah Debate Commission Co-Chairman, Senator Bob Bennett, addresses the press at the press release on the steps of the Utah State Capitol.

On Monday, February 24, 2014, The Utah Debate commission announced its existence to the public through a press conference held on the steps of the Utah State Capitol.  Speakers included co-chairman Scott Howell and Bob Bennett; Former Governor Walker; President of Utah Valley University, Matthew Holland; and BYU Professor and Utah Debate Commission Board member, Richard Davis.  The Debate Commission enjoyed a fury of media attention following its announcement:

August 21st Press Release – Click here to view the official August 21st Press Release announcing our moderators and debate producer.

September 15th Press Release – Click here to view the official September 15th Press Release announcing the poll results for the 2014 Midterm Election Debates.

Media Attention

Sanctity of office at issue in attorney general debate

Provo • Attorney General Sean Reyes’ Democratic challenger, Charles Stormont, said Reyes hasn’t done enough to reform the office in the aftermath of a massive scandal that drove his predecessor to resign.

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Attorney general candidates Reyes, Stormont differ over defending Utah marriage law

PROVO — Sharp differences emerged Wednesday between attorney general candidates Sean Reyes and Charles Stormont over defending Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Reyes, a Republican who the governor appointed to the job last December, said he has a duty to uphold state law. Stormont says he would not waste taxpayer money fighting an unconstitutional law in a case the state has no chance of winning.

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Richard Davis: Gather the family for a civics lesson – Watch the debates

In recent years, candidate communication with voters has been dominated by sound bites. But this year Utah voters can go beyond those brief remarks to hear candidates’ positions on a range of issues. Simultaneously, voters can direct questions to those candidates and listen to their answers. That is happening because of the five live televised debates sponsored by the newly formed Utah Debate Commission (UDC).

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Stewart, Robles have a lot in common in first congressional debate

CEDAR CITY — The candidates for Utah’s 2nd Congressional seat found common ground on a number of divisive issues in their first public debate Thursday night.

Straight out of the gate, the debate at Southern Utah University probed Rep. Chris Stewart, the Republican incumbent, and state Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, on hot-button issues including Common Core, same-sex marriage, public lands and conflict in the Middle East.

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2nd District debate friendly, but candidates show differences

Cedar City • Freshman Rep. Chris Stewart and his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Luz Robles, staged a polite, respectful debate Thursday — as might be expected between a pregnant mom and a former Air Force pilot officer and a gentleman.

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Sparks fly in Utah 1st District debate between Rob Bishop, Donna McAleer

Ogden • Perhaps not surprisingly for a West Point graduate and former Army officer, Democrat Donna McAleer launched a vigorous attack against Rep. Rob Bishop in a debate Tuesday. She called him a “guardian of gridlock” who helped shut down the government last year.

Six-term-incumbent Bishop defended himself, saying he protects Utah values in Washington, and is about to become chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, which would give him power to solve longtime gridlock over federal lands management.

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Bishop, McAleer face off in inaugural debate of Utah Debate Commission

OGDEN — Contenders for Utah’s 1st Congressional District had no shortage of weighty topics to cover in the inaugural debate Tuesday night organized by the Utah Debate Commission.

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Reflect and choose

Citizens of Utah have the opportunity to listen to the candidates, either as audience members or on the statewide-televised broadcast. They can judge the candidates’ understanding of the issues and evaluate their solutions to the challenges Northern Utah faces. The Walker Institute invites citizens to formulate their concerns into questions and submit them on the Utah Debate Commission website https://utahdebatecommission.org/submit-a-question. The moderator will select a fair and representative set of questions.

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Debates ready to start, third-party candidates not included

SALT LAKE CITY — First Congressional District candidates Rep. Rob Bishop and challenger Donna McAleer will square off Tuesday in the first prime-time debate put on by the Utah Debate Commission.

The commission, in cooperation with the state’s major television stations and universities, will sponsor debates in the four races for Congress and attorney general contested in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 4 election.

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Robert Bennett: Political debates can have impact

Many observers say debates don’t matter, and often that is true. But not always. In 1980, Reagan and Carter were in a dead heat until the debate where Reagan asked the viewers his devastating question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Overnight, a close race turned into a landslide. In 2000, after the second Bush-Gore debate, a foreign ambassador who was in the room with me said, “I think Governor Bush just won the election.” That debate may very well have been the winning margin in that closest of races. You never know when a debate will become a game-changer.

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Dan Liljenquist: The Utah Debate Commission helps create well-informed voters

In a representative republic, where our elected leaders make decisions on behalf of the people, being well-informed about the principles, motives and beliefs of those who seek to represent us is of paramount importance. By organizing and sponsoring debates, the UDC is helping strengthen our form of government.

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Editorial: Let the debates begin

Is there a better way to evaluate candidates for public office than to see them stand side by side, responding to questions about the issues of the day and given the chance to respond to each other? And to have that debate widely distributed and accessible to virtually every eligible voter?

If there is, we can’t think of what it could be.

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Utah Debate Commission announces moderators

Salt Lake City—the Board of Directors of the Utah Debate Commission (UDC) announced the selection of Ken Verdoia, David Magleby, and Barbara Smith as moderators for the debates this fall.

“The citizens of Utah should be extremely pleased with the high caliber of moderators selected by the Utah Debate Commission.  They bring years of expertise, a deep understanding of the issues confronting the state of Utah, and a great enthusiasm for the political process to the debates,” said former Utah governor and UDC Board Member Olene Walker.

The UDC is also pleased to announce JTV Productions owner Nathan Hill has joined the commission to oversee debate production.

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Nonpartisan group formed to engage Utah voters

“…This is a way to break through and get directly to the voters, whether you have the money or not,” said Bob Bennett, a former U.S. Senator from Utah during a news conference at the State Capitol on Monday.”

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First-of-its-kind Debate Commission aims to inform Utah voters

SALT LAKE CITY — A newly formed commission plans to hold prime-time political debates for Utah voters this fall to create a more meaningful discussion on issues and boost turnout at the polls.

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Group of Leading Citizens in Utah form first Debate Commission

(KUTV) A group of leading citizens in Utah has formed America’s first debate commission.  The group will announce political debates and expect candidates that are running for office to show up to them. General managers from all four TV stations in Utah as well as the heads of the local newspapers were all in attendance for the announcement at the state capitol on Monday.

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New commission aims to engage Utah political candidates in debate

…”Utah has some of the lowest voter turnout in the nation, largely because Republican dominance makes for little competition in most statewide races. Incumbents and candidates running ahead in the polls have little incentive to debate their opponents in a public forum. The commission hopes to change that.”

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Educators, media form a nonpartisan Utah Debate Commission

In a time of big money politics with public participation on the wane, educators, news media and some old guard politicians have come together in hopes of enlightening and engaging Utah voters.

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New Media/Political Partnership Aims to Foster More Political Debate

“BYU political science professor Richard Davis says, while participation in the debates won’t be compulsory for candidates, they hope to make it difficult for politicians to avoid participating.”

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Richard Davis: Debates will improve election process for voters, candidates

In 2012, KUED and KBYU co-sponsored a televised gubernatorial debate. It was the only televised debate that year between the two major party nominees for governor. By contrast, there were three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate that same year. They were sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has made presidential candidate debates a regular feature of presidential campaigns.

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Op-Ed: Broad group comes together to promote political debates in Utah

The newly formed Utah Debate Commission aims to capitalize on Utah’s appetite for greater civic participation in the electoral process. The goal of the commission is to educate voters about candidates through an ordered, non-partisan system of televised candidate debates. The premise is that a better informed electorate will participate more actively in the political life of the state.

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Debate commission’s goal is to engage and inform you, the voter

Lincoln-Douglas. Kennedy-Nixon. Obama-Romney.

Those elections for U.S. president — or in the case of Lincoln-Douglas, for a U.S. Senate seat portending a presidential race — were largely defined by debates between the candidates.

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Debate commission starts a new Utah tradition

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas were opposing candidates for the U.S. Senate from Illinois.

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