KSL: New Forward Party emerges in Utah to shake up 2-party system


Candidate Jay Mcfarland speaks at the Forward Party meet and greet at the Granite Library. Mcfarland is running for Congress in the 2nd District. (Cassidy Wixom, KSL.com) 

SALT LAKE CITY — Local candidates for Utah government aim to shake up the two-party system in the state.

The Forward Party emerged publicly in Utah on Monday at a meet-and-greet at Salt Lake City’s Granite Library. Around 35 people showed up, asking questions of the newly represented candidates and mingling with them about their new initiative.

The political party is a merged organization, combining the former Forward Party, the Renew America Movement founded by current Utah U.S. Senate candidate Evan McMullin and the Serve America Movement. The previous iteration of the Forward Party was started by Andrew Yang, a former political candidate in the 2020 presidential election. The party claims it prioritizes candidates who focus on compromise, and finding solutions to benefit the majority of citizens.

The Forward Party’s platform calls for election reform, ranked-choice voting, open and nonpartisan primaries and independent redistricting commissions.

The candidates at Monday’s event are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Forward Party, and include January Walker, who is running for Congress in Utah’s 4th District; former KSL NewsRadio talk show host Jay Mcfarland, who is running for the 2nd District; and Ladd Johnson, who is running for the Utah House of Representatives in District 46.

All three candidates are running as members of the United Utah Party.

Johnson said if he gets elected he will focus on what matters to the people, instead of just following the national party like Democrats and Republicans do, he claimed.

He said he supports policies that make government less divisive, as he thinks the two parties are causing too much contention, causing to nothing being accomplished.

“We can’t keep going down this path,” Johnson said. “The more and more divided we get, the more dangerous it is out there.”

Walker discussed how the majority of Americans are moderate, yet cannot find a candidate they agree with because most elected officials are too extreme or entrenched in one party. Creating a more people-centric government — rather than a party-centric government — could result in actual change, she said.

Although Utah has almost always voted for Republicans, Walker said the data show more people are actually moderate and independent than Republican.

“Moderates, independents, Fowardists, Uniters, all of us have the numbers to overtake extremism of the Republican Party,” Walker said.

Mcfarland said politicians right now in Utah are not afraid of their constituents, so they have no fear of voting against what their voters want. He encouraged people to start calling out their elected officials and holding them accountable for their actions. If a representative isn’t acting how voters want, voters need to vote them out, he said.

If elected, McFarland said he hopes to find common ground and work toward solutions in Congress.

Utah resident Drew Gill attended the event because his friend is involved in the Forward Party. Although skeptical at first, he thought the candidates brought up great points about political division and the two-party system.

After following Walker’s campaign for a while, Hannah McBeth, who typically leans toward liberal ideals, wanted to delve into the other candidate platforms.

She has recently been rejecting Democratic platforms and values, as she thinks both parties are inconsistent and heading towards corruption. McBeth said she is excited to see where the Forward Party goes.

By Cassidy Wixom, KSL.com