GOP candidate Burgess Owens says country needs more ‘chimney sweeps’

SALT LAKE CITY — Republican congressional candidate Burgess Owens considers himself a “sweeper” in a Trump administration if voters elect him and send the president back to the White House in November.

Owens said he lost it all after a decade in the National Football League that culminated in a Super Bowl championship with the Oakland Raiders. He moved his family of six to a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.

Rather than feeling sorry for himself after the failure of his business, he took a job as a chimney sweep by day and a security guard by night.

“I’m running for Congress because we don’t need more career politicians. We need a few more chimney sweeps,” Owens said during a speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday. “We need more leaders like President Trump who understand the freedoms that make up the fabric of America.”

Owens was among 20 speakers, including former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, on the third night of the convention that ends Thursday with President Donald Trump’s acceptance of the GOP presidential nomination.

A Fox News contributor and author, Owens is locked in a close race with Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams in Utah’s 4th congressional district. A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll released earlier this month showed the two tied at 35% each. But nearly a quarter of voters in the poll said they didn’t know who they would vote for.

In his three-and-a-half-minute speech taped Monday in Washington, DC, Owens condemned Democrats, praised Trump and honored his great-great-grandfather who came to America on a slave ship.

The country, Owens said, is at a crossroads. Mobs are burning cities and “grassroots” members of Congress are promoting the same socialism his father fought against in World War II, he said.

“We have a Democratic presidential candidate saying I’m ‘not black’ if I don’t vote for him,” Owens said.

More than ever, he said, the country needs leaders who will oppose anarchy backed by the “radical left”.

He cited the increase in business ownership among blacks, Hispanics and women under the Trump administration. And said those same groups were enjoying record unemployment and unprecedented prosperity, and “we’re just getting started.”

Owens said his great-great-grandfather came to America as an 8-year-old boy chained in the belly of a slave ship to be auctioned off.

He escaped through the Underground Railroad and settled in Texas. He became a successful entrepreneur, built his community’s first church and primary school, and purchased 102 acres of farmland.

“I’m here today running for Congress because of my great-great-grandfather, Silas Burgess,” Owens said. “This November, we have the opportunity to throw off the mob mentality and once again be the America my great-great-grandfather believed in.”

Owens said he was raised in the South during the days of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan. Despite the challenges of segregation, he said, he was taught that anything is possible in the United States. It’s a country where people are encouraged to dream big and where second chances are central to American identity, he said.

“We’re not hearing the same message from Congressman Nancy Pelosi,” said Owens, who watched the mostly pre-recorded convention at home.

Owens said it was humiliating to be recognized cleaning a fireplace by someone who once cheered him on at an NFL game. But, he said, those tough days paid off and he eventually had a rewarding career in the corporate world.

Career politicians, elitists and even a former bartender want people to believe it’s impossible, he said, referring to New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who worked as a waitress and bartender.

“They want us to believe that what I did, what my great-great-grandfather did, is impossible for ordinary Americans,” Owens said. “As patriots, we know better.”

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