Rep. Ben McAdams, the only Democrat in Utah’s congressional delegation, conceded his race to GOP challenger and former NFL player Burgess Owens on Monday.
Owens is the twelfth GOP challenger to unseat his incumbent Democratic opponent during the 2020 election as the Republican Party continues to cut into the Democrats House majority. Owens announced that McAdams had conceded the race in a tweet on Monday evening.
“I received a call from [McAdams,] he expressed appreciation for the opportunity to serve #UT04 and his commitment to a smooth transition. My sincere thanks to him for both. Thank you my fellow Utahns, I am committed to have an open ear to serve you. Thank you for the opportunity,” Owens said.
I received a call from @BenMcAdams he expressed appreciation for the opportunity to serve #UT04 and his commitment to a smooth transition. My sincere thanks to him for both. Thank you my fellow Utahns, I am committed to have an open ear to serve you. Thank you for the opportunity
— Burgess Owens (@BurgessOwens) November 16, 2020
Owens took a slim lead over McAdams as outstanding ballots continued to be counted over two weeks after election day in Utah. Owens maintained a roughly 2,000-vote lead over the incumbent McAdams when he decided to concede the election.
Owens pick-up is a key victory for the GOP, and Utah Republicans may be able to put Owens’ soon-to-be seat out of reach of the Democrats, Cook Political Report House editor David Wasserman told Deseret News.
“It’s a heartbreaking loss for Democrats, considering the margin,” Wasserman said. “It’s possible Republicans could take this seat off the table for 2022 if they’re able to muscle through a map that protects Owens in the 2021 redistricting process.” Redistricting will be guided by the state’s Republican-dominated legislature.
Wasserman outlined the broader woes of the Democratic Party after Owens’ race was called, pointing out that Democrats have failed to win any of the toss-up seats as labeled by the Cook Political Report.
“It’s been almost two weeks since Election Day, and Democrats still haven’t won a *single one* of the 27 House races in [Cook Political Reports’] Toss Up column. [Five] remain too close to call: #CA21, #CA25, #IA02, #NY02 and #NY22,” Wasserman said. “Republicans have also won 5 of the 18 races [Cook Political Report] rated as Lean D (28%), and 2 of the 18 races we rated as Likely D (11%). In the 2018 ‘blue wave,’ Dems won 2 of the 29 races we rated as Lean R (7%), and 2 of the 29 races we rated as Likely R (7%).”
As a former pro-football player, Owens has been an outspoken critic of the trend toward social justice activism in professional sports. Owens said that some NFL teams’ decision to play “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing,” known as the black national anthem, before football games was a move toward re-segregating the country. As The Daily Wire reported in July:
Former NFL star Burgess Owens ripped into the football league over reports that the NFL will play “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing,” dubbed the “Black national anthem,” before all Week 1 games this season.
The retired safety suggested the move was in line with “trying” to “segregate” the nation “again.”
“There is no ‘black national anthem,’” Owens posted via Twitter. “Why does it feel like the country is trying to segregate again sometimes?”
Owens, an outspoken critic of the Left, won a Republican primary for a U.S. House of Representatives seat in Utah’s fourth congressional district the day before his NFL swipe.