State Sen. Mike Kennedy wins 3rd Congressional District GOP nomination

By Brigham Tomco & Hanna Seariac, Deseret News | Published: April 27, 2024, 9:39 p.m. MDT

State Sen. Mike Kennedy won the crowded 3rd Congressional District Republican Party convention nomination on Saturday after six rounds of voting.

Kennedy, who received 61.5% in the final round, will advance to the GOP primary election on June 25 as the official party nominee. Utah Young Republicans chairman Zac Wilson, a convention-only candidate like Kennedy, came in second with 38.5% and was eliminated from the race.

Kennedy will appear on the primary ballot along with four candidates who qualified via signature gathering.

With Rep. John Curtis launching a Senate campaign in January, Utah’s 3rd District became an open seat for the first time in seven years. Nine Republicans jumped in the race despite the shortened timeline for fundraising and delegate outreach.

Kennedy, a state senator who won among delegates against Sen. Mitt Romney in 2018, scored a large plurality of votes in the first round, with 36% of the vote. The next highest vote getter in the first round of voting was Roosevelt Mayor JR Bird, who netted 18%. The other seven candidates all had below 10%.

Kennedy’s message emphasized his conservative voting record in the state legislature and his commitment to delegates as one of three convention-only candidates seeking a path to the June 25 GOP primary.

“Unite behind me, a convention-only candidate. The rest of these candidates gathered signatures, or tried to. They don’t need your vote, I do,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy, a family physician in Utah County, touted the bill he introduced at the state Capitol to ban transgender surgeries for Utah children and teens as well as his votes against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

“Our country needs real solutions. It’s time for Washington to stop complaining and pointing fingers. And it’s beyond time to solve these problems,” Kennedy said.

After the third round of voting, two candidates — former state lawmaker Chris Herrod and state auditor John “Frugal” Dougall — endorsed Wilson. The subsequent boost in support carried Wilson to a second-place finish — strengthened by Bird’s endorsement after the fifth round.

Wilson emphasized his familiarity with fiscal issues and his ability to connect with young voters to counter a growing progressive movement among American youth.

“It’s time to send a young conservative voice back to Washington, D.C.,” Wilson said. “One of the candidates in this race recently said ‘I view Zac Wilson as the future of this party.’ … And to you the delegates I say, the future is now.”

Before endorsing Wilson, Bird highlighted his varied background as a rural mayor, business owner and agricultural producer. He has already qualified for the primary ballot after gathering 7,000 signatures and investing more than $1 million of his own money.

“Are you tired of people in Massachusetts and Vermont telling us to how to live our lives and how to use our lands in Utah?” Bird said. “Send Washington ‘the bird.’”

In addition to Bird, Dougall, Sky Zone founder Case Lawrence and commercial litigator Stewart Peay have already qualified for the primary via signature gathering.

Five candidates will now appear on the primary ballot to represent the sprawling 3rd District which includes south Salt Lake County, most of Utah County and all of eastern Utah.

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Opinion: Returning power to the people — why Chevron Deference needs to end

By Mike Kennedy, | Posted – Feb 9, 2024 at 12:08 p.m.

This legal principle has significantly shifted the dynamics of our nation’s lawmaking, blurring lines of accountability and diminishing the legislative role of Congress

If we want Washington to work for us, the American people, we must start by restoring power back into the hands of those we elect and away from unelected bureaucrats. A critical aspect of this transformation hinges on addressing a doctrine known as Chevron Deference. Far more than a mere technicality, this legal principle has significantly shifted the dynamics of our nation’s lawmaking, blurring lines of accountability and diminishing the legislative role of Congress.

For over 40 years, Congress has been derelict in its duties, hiding behind Chevron Deference, established in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (1984), to delegate its power to federal agencies. This abdication of responsibility has led to vaguely worded legislation, paralyzing gridlock and sprawling omnibus bills. One stark example of this issue is the Waters of the United States rule. Under the influence of Chevron Deference, its interpretation has been subject to dramatic shifts with each changing administration, illustrating the instability and confusion bred by this doctrine.

As an attorney and a Utah lawmaker, I see a stark contrast between our state’s effective governance and the inefficiencies in Washington. In Utah, we meticulously craft bills annually with specific language to minimize bureaucratic overreach. This diligence is not just best practice; it’s our duty to the people. Unlike the federal bureaucracy, which operates in the shadows, our state government is directly accountable to its citizens.

The doctrine of Chevron Deference is a fundamental deviation from the constitutional design of our government. The legislative branch, intended by the framers of the Constitution to be the sole creator of laws, has enabled unelected bureaucrats to interpret and effectively create laws, eroding this principle. This isn’t about the intelligence or capability of bureaucrats, but about the principle of democratic representation and accountability.

To ensure that laws reflect the will of the people and maintain the balance of power essential to our constitutional republic, we must end Chevron Deference. This change is vital for restoring legislative power to elected representatives. Additionally, adopting single-issue legislation would compel Congress to draft laws that are precise, transparent and accountable, reflecting the true intent of our Founding Fathers. Single-issue bills, as advocated by James Madison in The Federalist No. 62, would ensure that each law is thoroughly debated and understood before being passed. This approach would eliminate the complexities often buried in omnibus packages, allowing for greater transparency, less government waste, and a greater public understanding of legislation.

It’s time to demand more from our federal legislators. They must step up and take responsibility for our nation’s laws, rather than deferring to agencies led by unelected bureaucrats. It’s time for clarity in our legislation, for accountability in our government and for respect for our Constitution. I believe the Supreme Court should end Chevron Deference, creating a significant step in returning power to the people’s elected representatives and realigning our government with its constitutional foundation.

It is time to take our country back. That starts by removing control from the backrooms of bureaucracy and placing it firmly in the halls of Congress, under the watchful eye of the American people. This is not just a legal correction, but a pivotal moment in restoring the integrity of our legislative process. It is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the limited government principles upon which our nation was founded and a way to give regular people a stronger voice in Washington. 

Mike Kennedy is a state senator in Utah representing District 21.

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Utah immigrants from Venezuela, Cuba, other countries push anti-communist message bill

By Tim Vandenack, | Posted – Feb. 3, 2024 at 9:14 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Living in Cuba, says Gabriela Puckett, was anything but idyllic.

Now living in Orem, some people remark enthusiastically about the beaches and sun when she tells them she’s from the Caribbean island nation. Her memories, though, are of scarce food, government control and limited professional opportunities.

She ultimately fled the communist nation and is now part of a contingent of immigrants in Utah, most from Latin America, pushing a message bill in the Utah Legislature calling for the condemnation of socialism and communism.

“It’s like a cancer that’s spreading all over the country,” Puckett, a naturalized U.S. citizen, told “We need to teach children and young people about communism, the reality, the truth.”

The aim of SJR5, she and others behind the measure say, is to shed light on what they believe to be a slow creep toward socialism in the United States and to stop it. Sen. Michael Kennedy, R-Alpine, is the sponsor, and the resolution received a favorable recommendation in a 3-1 vote of the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee last week.

Carlos Moreno, originally from Venezuela and now living in West Jordan, reached out to Kennedy to get the bill on the lawmaker’s radar screen. In Venezuela under the late socialist President Hugo Chavez, Moreno said, guns were taken from private residents and school curriculum was changed to reflect socialist values. Cuban revolutionaries like Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Fidel Castro were put forward to kids as heroic examples to emulate. President Nicolás Maduro now leads Venezuela, following the footsteps of Chavez.

“When you escape from that type of regime, you don’t want to see it in your new home,” said Moreno, a naturalized U.S. citizen running as a Republican for the District 2 seat on the Salt Lake County Council. The other hopefuls for the seat, now held by Republican Dave Alvord who’s not running again, are Republican Daniel Thatcher and Democrat Katie Olson.

After coming to Utah as a student in 2009, Moreno said, he created a student group challenging changes implemented by Venezuela that impacted the finances of students abroad, incurring the wrath of the government. “Overnight, I became an enemy of the state and I had to apply for political asylum,” said Moreno, who, like Puckett, testified on behalf of SJR5 at last week’s committee hearing.

SJR5 doesn’t call for any specific action — it has no teeth. It reads as a statement of resolve by the Utah Legislature that the body “celebrates the enduring principles of the United States Constitution, reaffirms our commitment to the free market system and condemns the destructive and oppressive nature of socialism and communism.”

But it reflects the concerns of some immigrant newcomers about what’s happening around the world and their contentions that socialism is gaining a foothold in the state. Among other things, Moreno pointed to the creation of a Salt Lake branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, which espouses “the socialist transformation of society,” and, on a larger scale, moves toward socialism in Latin America.

“Socialism doesn’t come overnight. It’s a process like what happened in Venezuela,” said Moreno, who runs an energy consulting firm.

Venezuela and Cuba may be the most overt countries in their embrace of socialism and communism, but Moreno said other nations in the region are making incremental policy changes in the same direction. In fact, other backers of the push for SJR5, he said, include immigrants, asylum seekers and naturalized citizens originally from Paraguay, Chile, Mexico and Nicaragua.

Alvin Guo, originally from China but now living in Provo and studying at Brigham Young University, is also involved in the effort. He spoke at the committee hearing of repression by the Chinese government against Christians — burning of crosses, jailing of people for showing the Bible — and Uyghurs, among other things. “Communists are the biggest adversity for humankind and the (Chinese Communist Party) is the alpha wolf of the global threat to America,” he said.

An anti-communist message may resonate strongly in a conservative place like Utah. Kennedy, the resolution sponsor, said the measure “is vital in protecting the American dream and ensuring that our nation remains a symbol of freedom and opportunity for all.”

But Utah Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, voiced reservations about SJR5 during the committee hearing, ultimately voting against recommending approval of the measure. She subsequently proposed a substitute version of SJR5, expanding its condemnation beyond communism and socialism to “all oppressive forms of government.” Her proposal also fine-tunes some of the criticism the measure aims at communism and socialism.

She doesn’t support communism or socialism, she said, but questioned the timing of the measure, drawing parallels to the recent legislative debate about HB261 and overhauling diversity, equity and inclusion programs at universities. That contentious measure, signed into law by Gov. Spencer Cox on Tuesday, espouses academic freedom on college campuses and prohibits discrimination.

“I do have a lot of concerns just on the timing and as we are evolving on some of these difficult conversations. Like I said, I certainly agree in concept with some of these pieces. But It’s when they connect to everything else that is happening … that’s hurting many members of our community that I do have a big hesitation,” she said.

Puckett, meantime, touted the import of pushing back hard against communism, alluding to the toll it takes on the people of Cuba.

“We don’t want people to lose the hope like in Cuba,” she said. “They don’t even dream. … The only dream in Cuba is to leave Cuba because you’re not living.”

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Utah state Sen. Mike Kennedy running to replace Rep. John Curtis in the House

By Reese Gorman, Washington Examiner | Posted January 5th, 2024

Utah Republican state Sen. Mike Kennedy announced he is running for the open House seat of Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), who is vying to replace retiring Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) in the Senate.

Kennedy has served in the state legislature since 2013, beginning as a state representative. He left the state House in 2018 to run for U.S. Senate but failed to defeat Romney in the primary election. Kennedy had won slightly more delegate votes at the Utah Republican Convention.

He subsequently ran for and won his state Senate seat.

“Our nation is at a pivotal moment,” Kennedy said in a statement. “As your state senator, I have fought tirelessly for fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets, and for putting the interests of Utahns above special interests. Now, I am ready to take this commitment to a Congress deeply in need of conservative problem solvers and responsible governance. I will work diligently to secure our borders, restore fiscal discipline, protect our freedoms, and be a voice for common sense, civility, and integrity on the national stage.”

Kennedy, a family doctor by trade, also sponsored legislation to ban minors from receiving transgender surgeries. Following his introduction of the bill, his house was vandalized with graffiti.

The Utah Republican said that while he is a staunch conservative, he will work with members across the aisle to ensure legislation gets done.

“The challenges we face as a nation — from families struggling with the rising costs of inflation, our mounting national debt, and the need for strong border security — demand leaders who are ready to take on these issues and understand the importance of civil discourse and collaboration,” Kennedy said. “In Congress, I will work to ensure that the voices and values of everyday Utahns are not drowned by the bickering of those seeking to divide our country. We need leaders who will stand firm in their principles, challenge the status quo when needed, and work tirelessly for the freedoms, safety, and prosperity of all Americans.”

Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird Jr. is also running to replace Curtis.

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Utah state senator opposed to COVID mandates, trans surgeries for kids announces bid for Congress

By Lacey Christ, Fox News | Posted January 4, 2024 2:00 p.m.

FIRST ON FOX – Republican Utah state Sen. Mike Kennedy is launching a bid for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District to replace GOP incumbent John Curtis, who is running to replace Mitt Romney in the U.S. Senate. 

Utah’s 3rd District covers part of Salt Lake City and includes the cities of Orem and Provo. The seat was previously held by former Congressman Jason Chaffetz until 2017. Later that year, Curtis won the seat in a special election. 

The district is a Republican stronghold. Former President Trump won the district with over 56% of the vote in 2020 and Curtis won by over 45% in 2022.

“I came from poverty, single-parent home, a free lunch kid in high school and never had anything that wasn’t,” said Kennedy. “For a fellow like me to not only have a chance to get a great education, but also to serve the people of the great state of Utah… I am so impressed with the people in the great state of Utah. They’re outstanding people.”

Kennedy, a family medicine doctor and attorney, ran for the U.S. Senate in 2018 in the Beehive State against Mitt Romney. Kennedy secured the most votes in the Utah State Republican Convention, but ultimately was defeated by Romney in the Republican primary. 

However, Kennedy tells Fox News Digital that there is no bad blood. “Party infighting is more selfish than selfless,” said Kennedy. He also said that he will “work with anybody who’s got a good idea, who’s willing to look to the future and make it better for all of us.”

During his time in the Utah state Senate, Kennedy helped pass legislation fighting COVID mandates and transgender minor surgeries. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Kennedy returned to his role as a family doctor, spending months caring for patients and conducting his own research on COVID-19.

“The COVID crisis – and being a doctor dealing with sickness on a regular basis, it was a very good spot for me to be on,” said Kennedy. “As far as the response that the state of Utah had to go, we’re able to balance the important issues associated with health and preserving life, but not destroying livelihoods at the same time.”

Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird Jr. is also running for Utah’s 3rd District. Former Utah state Rep. Chris Herrod and state auditor John Dougall are considering running. The primary election will be held June 25 and the general election is Nov. 4. 

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State Sen. Mike Kennedy considering run for Utah’s 3rd District House seat

By Bridger Beal-Cvetko, | Posted – Dec. 15, 2023 at 11:25 a.m.

Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, presents SB16 to the House Health and Human Services Standing Committee at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Jan. 24. Kennedy on Friday announced an exploratory committee for Utah’s 3rd District House seat. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — State Sen. Mike Kennedy on Friday announced an exploratory committee for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District seat which is currently held by Rep. John Curtis.

Kennedy, a Republican from Alpine, has served in the Utah Legislature since 2013 and represents a district that overlaps with Curtis’ constituency.

“Our nation is at a pivotal moment, facing a staggering debt crisis, eroding freedoms, and a lack of common sense and civility in policy-making,” Kennedy said. “I am exploring a congressional bid because now more than ever we need conservatives who can work with others to confront these issues head-on, bringing fiscal restraint, enhanced border security, and commonsense leadership to Washington.”

In his announcement, Kennedy touted support from state Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, and House Speaker Mike Schultz, R-Hooper.

Curtis announced last month that he’s considering running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Mitt Romney, after Romney announced he would not seek reelection at the end of his current term. Although Curtis has not officially joined that race, former state Rep. Chris Herrod — who has challenged Curtis in GOP primaries multiple times — has also signaled an interest in the 3rd District seat.

Kennedy’s announcement focused on his belief in limited government and his desire for “fiscal responsibility.”

“We need to tackle inflation and the debt head-on, restore common sense to our national policies and ensure a safe, prosperous future for all Americans,” he said. “We need leaders who will listen and always look to work with others, but aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and fight tirelessly for the values that make Utah and our country great.”

Kennedy was the architect of a controversial law passed earlier this year that bans transgender surgeries for children and places an indefinite moratorium on treatments such as puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors.

Kennedy practices family medicine, and also has a law degree from Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School.

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State senator announces exploratory committee for Rep. John Curtis’ seat

By Brigham Tomco Dec 15, 2023, 1:11pm CST

Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, speaks during Senate media availability on the first day of the 2023 Utah Legislature at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Jan. 17, 2023.

State Sen. Mike Kennedy announced he has formed an exploratory committee to test the waters for a 2024 congressional campaign if 3rd District congressman Rep. John Curtis runs for U.S. Senate. 

The Deseret News broke the news last month that Kennedy was considering another bid for national office. Kennedy left his seat in the Utah House representing Highland and Alpine to run a failed Senate primary challenge to Mitt Romney in 2018. Kennedy returned to state politics in 2020 when he won a special election to represent northern Utah County in the state Senate. 

Kennedy’s Friday announcement is the most concrete step taken so far among a group of congressional hopefuls waiting to throw their hat in the ring if Curtis makes his widely expected announcement that he will swap a 2024 House reelection effort for a Senate one. Former Curtis challenger Chris Herrod, state auditor John Dougall and Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird Jr. have also said they were considering a run to replace Curtis.

Kennedy currently represents roughly 20% of 3rd District voters as a state lawmaker and has the support of Utah Senate President Stuart Adams and House Speaker Mike Schultz, according to a press release issued Friday.

“Our nation is at a pivotal moment, facing a staggering debt crisis, eroding freedoms, and a lack of common sense and civility in policy-making,” Kennedy said in a statement. “I am exploring a Congressional bid because now more than ever we need conservatives who can work with others to confront these issues head-on, bringing fiscal restraint, enhanced border security, and common sense leadership to Washington.”

Working as a family doctor with a practice in Lindon, Kennedy has prioritized health care issues during his eight years in office, recently sponsoring a bill that banned transgender surgeries for Utah youth and another prohibiting employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccines.

“We need leaders who will listen and always look to work with others, but aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and fight tirelessly for the values that make Utah and our country great,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy received a law degree from Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School before studying medicine at Michigan State University. He has eight children and eight grandchildren.

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State Sen. Mike Kennedy begins exploratory committee for congressional run

By Carlene Coombs – | Dec 15, 2023

Utah State Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, speaks with reporters on the opening day of the Utah Legislative Session at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Salt Lake City. Kennedy, a Republican family doctor sponsoring the Utah proposal, told reporters that it didn’t make sense that health care policy related to gender and youth, which is at times irreversible, would be subject to no government oversight.

Utah state Sen. Mike Kennedy announced he has formed an exploratory committee to consider running for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District.

“Our nation is at a pivotal moment, facing a staggering debt crisis, eroding freedoms, and a lack of common sense and civility in policy-making,” Kennedy said in a press release on Friday. “I am exploring a Congressional bid because now more than ever, we need conservatives who can work with others to confront these issues head-on, bringing fiscal restraint, enhanced border security, and common sense leadership to Washington.”

U.S. Rep. John Curtis currently holds the congressional seat but, in November, showed renewed interest in running for U.S. Senate to replace Mitt Romney. Curtis has yet to officially join the Senate race.

Curtis’ campaign had not responded to a request for comment as of late Friday morning.

According to the press release, Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, and Utah House Speaker Mike Shultz, R-Hooper, are “early supporters” of Kennedy’s committee.

The Alpine Republican is known for sponsoring controversial legislation this year to ban gender-affirming care, such as puberty blockers and surgeries, for Utah transgender youth. That legislation was passed and signed by the governor.

His website states he’s been a “conservative advocate” for fiscal responsibility, limited government and individual liberty.

Kennedy currently represents parts of northern Utah County in the Utah Senate, including some of Alpine, Highland, American Fork and Pleasant Grove. Outside of the Legislature, Kennedy is a family physician and holds a law degree from Brigham Young University.

So far, there’s at least one official challenger in the race, with Democrat Glenn Wright announcing he is running for the same seat in a press release sent Friday afternoon.

Wright ran against Curtis in 2022, where the incumbent representative won with nearly 74% of the vote. Wright is from Park City and previously served as a Summit County councilor and chair of the Summit County Democratic Party, according to the Park Record.

According to the Federal Election Commission, an exploratory committee is not a declaration of candidacy. Rather, it allows a potential candidate to test the feasibility of a campaign.

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Mike Kennedy running for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District seat

Published on December 15, 2023 By Skyler Beltran

Utah State Senator Mike Kennedy, who represents east Lehi on Capitol Hill, has announced an exploratory committee for his run for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District. The announcement comes as “an exploration” as current Congressman John Curtis has not officially announced his anticipated Senate run to replace retiring Senator Mitt Romney. Curtis is expected to announce his Senate campaign next week. At that point, Kennedy will then officially enter the race.

“The dysfunction and lack of civility in Washington is concerning, and our families are paying the price. We need to tackle inflation and the debt head-on, restore common sense to our national policies, and ensure a safe, prosperous future for all Americans. We need leaders who will listen and always look to work with others but aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and fight tirelessly for the values that make Utah and our country great,” said Kennedy in his social media announcement on Thursday.

Other candidates considering a run for the 3rd District include former Utah County Republican Party Chair Stewart Peay and former Utah House Representative Chris Herrod.

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Vandals hit Utah Republican’s home for bill banning gender surgeries for minors: ‘I will not be silenced’

Vandals used red spray paint to write messages on State Sen. Mike Kennedy’s garage door

By Taylor Penley Fox News
Published April 24, 2023 11:30am EDT

A Utah Republican is remaining defiant after vandals slathered blood-red paint on his home after he sponsored a state bill to curb gender-affirming care procedures for minors, including surgery and puberty blockers.

Utah State Sen. Mike Kennedy (R) joined “Fox & Friends” to discuss the incident Monday, saying he was out of town when the vandals struck, adding that his neighbors helped by cleaning up some of the mess in his absence.

“In an effort to silence me, these violent messages were left on my garage door,” he told Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt. “You’ll notice that they’re blood-red spray paint, which I find to be frankly shocking.”

“This is an effort to silence me, and I will not be silenced,” he continued.

Kennedy slammed the vandals’ behavior as “inappropriate” on all levels, noting that members of both parties have come together to condemn the move. Equality Utah, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group was among those who condemned the attack, alleging it hindered efforts to “build bridges on Utah’s Captol Hill,” according to a local report from FOX 13 in Salt Lake City.

“We don’t know the ideology of those who vandalized Sen. Kennedy’s house. But we have repeatedly asked conservatives to call out extremists on their side, who verbally harass our community and attack our liberties with harmful legislation. In return, we now call out and condemn extremists who may identify with our side, who deploy tactics to intimidate and frighten political opponents,” the group said in a statement, according to the outlet.

Kennedy, during the Monday segment, blasted gender-affirming care for minors as “radical, irreversible and damaging” and circled back to label the retaliatory vandalism “reprehensible.”

“We’ve been violated, the neighborhood has been violated,” he said. “An attack on one is an attack on all, and I’ve been really grateful to see people who don’t necessarily support my political views, they also have been supportive of the effort to condemn this sort of behavior.”

Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed controversial Senate Bill 16 into law in January, effectively banning gender surgeries for minors and placing a moratorium on puberty blockers for transgender patients in the Beehive State.

The ACLU of Utah has since threatened a lawsuit over the policy, alleging it violates the civil liberties of transgender Utahans.

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