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Carbon County attorney is the Democratic Party’s choice for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District

Nathaniel Woordward says he’s a ‘progressive liberal,’ not a centrist or moderate

By Alixel Cabrera - Utah News Dispatch | May 28, 2024

Photo supplied, Utah Democratic Party

Nathaniel Woodward

A lawyer from Carbon County will be the Utah Democratic Party nominee for the U.S. House 2nd Congressional District race in this November general election.

Nathaniel Woodward, also the chair of the Carbon County Democratic Party, was chosen by party members in a selection meeting Saturday. He is expected to run a campaign that champions a “simpler and more just” tax code, and women’s and workers rights.

“In Congress, I will aggressively call out those who continue to peddle pop culture politics. I will advocate and bring forward solutions to actual problems facing us,” Woodward said on Saturday.

Woodward pledged to never advocate against or vote against bills that address “actual inequity and propose actual solutions.” He also affirmed he’s a “progressive liberal,” not a centrist and not a moderate.

“Our fight is not with Republicans. It is so much bigger than that,” he said. “It is against an ideology that pits neighbor against neighbor; generation against generation; community against community.”

Woodward was chosen by a committee of party members in a ranked-choice election with a simple majority — and not the usual convention 55% threshold, as there won’t be a primary for this spot.

The race was tight. Woodward received 22 votes after five rounds of instant runoff voting, while Garret Rushforth, a teacher from Centerville, got 21.

After filing his candidacy with the office of the lieutenant governor, Woodward will face either incumbent Rep. Celeste Maloy or Colby Jenkins, depending on the outcome of the June 25 Republican primary.

Woodward is replacing Brian Adams, who had earned the spot in an uncontested race during the Democratic Party convention in April. Adams, however, dropped out after party groups, such as Young Democrats of Utah said he didn’t represent the party’s values. He had publicly praised independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and on his website described Jan. 6 offenders as “politically persecuted.”

More than 70 people, including six candidates, attended an online meeting to hear the hopefuls’ pitches on Saturday morning. The choice was up to 64 members of the party’s 2nd Congressional District Central Committee.

Born and raised in coal country and with both sides of his family belonging to unions, Woodward said that he knows rural Utah is where he’s meant to take a stand.

“All of Utah, urban and rural, have more in common than we realize. Each community fights a unique battle that only if we band together and help each other’s struggles, can we find real solutions,” he said.

Woodward also spoke about helping draft “Ashley’s Law,” a proposed amendment to the Utah code to allow harsher penalties in sexual abuse cases where the victim is a vulnerable adult — similar to cases involving children and elderly people.

“As a society, we are failing to address the actual issues because we are being distracted by the rhetoric of national organizations whose only goals are to grow and retain power,” Woodward said. “They put forth agendas that evoke strong emotional reactions, because they know if we are busy fighting for our basic rights, that we will be too distracted to confront the actual problems our communities are facing.”

In the meeting, candidates, which included an engineer, a teacher, a yellow cab driver and a retired regional director from the Utah Department of Workforce Services, highlighted their diverse backgrounds.

They also spoke about what it means to be a Democrat in a red state and the importance of fighting for their party values. Most of them also discussed how crucial it is to be a voice against a “rhetoric of hate.”

Many of the six candidates who spoke on Saturday said they would champion specific issues in Congress, including housing prices, health care, environmental issues, women’s rights, labor rights, and education, among others.

Schuyler Rhodes withdrew his candidacy before the presentations. Warren Wright was still on the ballot, but didn’t attend the meeting.

“Congratulations to Nathaniel Woodward on his nomination,” Utah Democratic Party Chair Diane Lewis said in a statement on Saturday. “Unlike the far-right extremists seeking the Republican nomination in CD2, we are confident that Nathaniel Woodward stands for Utah families.”

Utah News Dispatch is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news source covering government, policy and the issues most impacting the lives of Utahns.

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