In their final debate, 3rd Congressional District candidates try to stand out

Posted at 8:26 PM, Oct 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-19 09:57:52-04

PROVO, Utah -- With ballots already mailed out and just a few weeks left until Election Day, the top three candidates vying to replace Jason Chaffetz in congress made a final pitch to a statewide television audience.

Republican frontrunner John Curtis, Democratic challenger Kathie Allen and United Utah Party candidate Jim Bennett debated a range of issues from health care and immigration to gun control and public lands.

They each tried to stand out.

Watch the entire debate here:

"The two party system has demonstrated it can't solve the problem," said Bennett.

For Bennett, it was the first time a third-party candidate had made an appearance in one of the Utah Debate Commission's events. His party sued the state to get on the ballot.

"Mr. Bennett, I like you, but parties of one get nothing done!" Allen told him.

Both Allen and Bennett focused their attention on Curtis, seeking to link him to President Trump.

"Mayor Curtis has embraced that agenda," Allen told reporters after the debate.

Curtis appeared to avoid mention of Trump, but told reporters later that it was unintentional. He said there are parts of the president's agenda he does support -- like tax cuts, the economy and court nominees.

"If you’re defining the Trump agenda as divisiveness as meanness of bullying of not respecting women and minorities, of course I abhor that," Curtis said.

While polling shows Curtis with a strong lead, both Allen and Bennett believed Wednesday night's debate helped them.

"I don’t know there’s a single one of them that wouldn’t die to trade me places," Curtis said after the debate.

"Polls don’t vote!" Allen declared to reporters. "And we have a lot of support in this district. We felt it tonight."

Bennett said he did not have plans to run beyond this special election.

"I am running this race to win," he said.