OGDEN, Utah — U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop and his Democratic opponent clashed during a Monday debate on medical marijuana, climate change, and the Republican’s continued support for Donald Trump.
During a spirited event in Ogden, Dr. Peter Clemens challenged the incumbent to follow the lead of other Utah Republicans and refuse to vote for the presidential nominee. While Bishop condemned Trump’s comments on women, he said a Hillary Clinton presidency would be bad for Utah’s economy, The Standard-Examiner reported (http://bit.ly/2e2wxnK).
Clemens, for his part, said he wouldn’t vote for Trump but wasn’t sure if he’d cast his ballot for Clinton either.
Bishop recently unveiled a joint proposal to shift 18 million acres of land from federal to state control in Utah, and said he believes state and local leaders can do a better job than the federal government because they can be more creative.
He argued that’s true on many issues, including medical marijuana.
“I don’t think the federal government should be involved with this issue at all … the state should have the right to legislate and regulate as they wish,” he said. He acknowledged there could be some justification for medical, though not recreational, pot use.
Clemens, by contrast, said cannabis could be a viable alternative to addictive opioid painkiller drugs, and federal authorities should have an important role in regulating it so each state doesn’t have to set up its own Food & Drug Administration.
“Doctors need other tools in their toolbox to help take care of chronic pain. I agree with 65 percent of Utahns that it’s time we took a really serious look at medical cannabis,” he said.
On climate change, Clemens said the mountain snowpack that feeds the state’s water supply would be directly affected by warming global temperatures. Clemens argued the state should make a push for clean energy with solar power.
Bishop bristled at his comments, saying the climate has always been changing and humans, as a part of nature, are part of that process. Lawmakers must carefully balance the social costs and benefits of carbon, he said.
“Any legislation that comes from Washington that ignores one side or the other is bound to be wrong and is bound to cause more harm than benefit,” Bishop said.
Clemens pledged to only serve three terms if elected, while Bishop said he hasn’t let seven terms in Washington change him.
Clemens is a primary care doctor and clinical director of Ogden Regional Medical Center’s Wound and Hyperbaric Care Center. Bishop is a former high school civics teacher and state lawmaker. Both are active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This marks his second time challenging Bishop. In 2014, he lost a Democratic primary race to Donna McAleer, who unsuccessfully ran against Bishop in that year’s general election.
Bishop won that race with 64 percent of the vote in the largely Republican 1st Congressional District, which includes the northernmost parts of Utah, like Ogden and Logan.