Kraig Powell, GOP legislator, faces a challenge from the far right | ParkRecord.com

Kraig Powell, GOP legislator, faces a challenge from the far right

Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Rep. Kraig Powell, the moderate Republican state legislator whose district includes Park City, will face a challenge for the party’s nomination this year from a businessman campaigning to the political right of the incumbent.

Powell is seeking a fifth term in the Utah House of Representatives. He is an attorney from Heber City. Tim Quinn, an owner of a company that sells pharmaceuticals who lives just outside Heber City, has started a bid against Powell to win the Republican nomination.

The Republican contest for the nomination is critical in the heavily GOP district. The candidate who secures the party’s nomination will be seen as the clear favorite on Election Day against the Democratic candidate.

District 54 spreads through part of Summit County and Wasatch County. The section of Summit County includes Park City and parts of the Snyderville Basin like Silver Creek and Highland Estates. In 2014, the most recent House of Representatives election, Powell lost in Summit County to his Democratic opponent but kept the seat with an exceptionally strong showing in Wasatch County.

Powell is 49 years old and an attorney. He has long been seen as one of the most moderate Republican members of the House of Representatives. He has built a solid relationship with Park City officials and has reached out to people who live in Park City, including a recent event at the Park City Library.

"I am a voice of reason and moderates," Powell said, adding that the decision in this year’s campaign is a "moderate Republican or a right-wing extremist."

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Powell said he plans a campaign that will center on issues like ethics, public education and the environment, including air quality. He spoke about his refusal to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists, corporations or special interests as he outlined his ethics plank. Powell also described himself as a strong supporter of the state’s public schools, saying, as an example, he does not want school districts to be required to subsidize charter schools.

Quinn, meanwhile, outlined a broad platform of conservative stands.

"Less government, less regulation, less taxes, less intrusion to our lives," he said.

Quinn, who is 52 years old, said he wants to ensure the state does not increase personal income taxes or taxes on corporations. He said Utah is in strong financial shape as a result of a balanced budget and taxes that are low as compared to other states. Lower taxes, he said, attract businesses to the state.

"I would never catch myself saying we are an under-taxed people," Quinn said.

He also wants the state to cut wasteful spending and cut "things that the state government should not be in the business of doing." He said the state government should not perform functions provided by the private sector. Quinn, as examples, said the state should have direct responsibility over the related issues of roads and transportation as well as provide oversight of education and operate the state prison. The savings from spending cuts could then be put toward education, Quinn said.

Quinn called Powell "the most liberal Republican in the House of Representatives," saying he opposes the incumbent on issues such as parental rights as they pertain to education.

There is not a declared Democratic candidate in District 54. Glenn Wright, the chair of the Summit County Democratic Party, said there are talks ongoing with several unidentified Democrats from Wasatch County. Wright said he does not anticipate a contest within the party for the Democratic nomination.

The campaigns cannot be formalized until the state’s filing window, which runs from March 11 until March 17.