1st Congressional Candidates On Their Differences, Health Care And Abortion
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-UT, isn’t running for re-election in the state’s 1st Congressional District, a seat he’s held for nearly 20 years.
Vying to take his place are Republican Blake Moore and Democrat Darren Parry. Moore is a political newcomer with experience in the private sector and as a former U.S. Foreign Service officer. Parry is a moderate and the former chair of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.
Even though they’re in opposing parties, Blake Moore and Darren Parry agree on a lot of issues, like diversifying the Uinta Basin economy, balancing the federal budget and the need for bipartisanship in Washington.
Moore said he’s not offended if that makes people think he’s a moderate, but he believes his political views align with conservative Utah principles.
“When I talk about being conservative, I talk about caring about the economy and your neighbor,” Moore said. “I talk about empowering families, and I talk about embracing the entrepreneurial spirit so everyone has a chance to succeed.”
Like other Republicans, Moore supports replacing the Affordable Care Act. He said his health care priorities are transparent pricing, an emphasis on preventative care and reforming the Medicaid program.
“Right now, our Medicaid system discourages you from kind of getting out of that poverty situation that you're in,” he said. “It actually discourages you from going out and trying to make more income, because if you get to that point, then you're not able to to have health insurance. I think we have to target that issue.”
Throughout the election, Moore’s opponents have criticized him for living outside of the 1st District’s boundaries. But from where he lives, Moore said he can get to the far reaches of the district faster than anyone — from Utah’s northern border to Uintah County along the central eastern state line.
Regardless of where he lives, Moore thinks the emphasis should be on his qualifications as a candidate.
“The framers of the Constitution knew that boundaries were always going to ebb and flow,” he said. “‘Send your best people back from your state.’ And I believe that message has resonated.”
Moore beat out three other candidates in the Republican primary to win the party’s nomination.
One of the things Darren Parry said makes him different from Blake Moore is his leadership style. Parry is 60-years-old and said he’s more mature than when he was 40 — Moore’s age.
“I would have been like Blake,” Parry said. “I know all the answers. I'm young, energetic, ready to go. But the kind of leader I am today, I don't need to know everything. But what I do need to know is how to bring people together.”
While Moore supports replacing the Affordable Care Act, Parry said he wants to keep the ACA in place, with some improvements around prescription drug prices and mental health coverage.
And as Congress moves to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, abortion is once again at the center of debate. Moore and Parry both describe themselves as pro-life, but Parry said there’s a difference in the way he and Republicans view that phrase.
“Some of my Republican friends say they're pro-life, and they really worry about the unborn child that's in the womb,” he said. “And then as soon as they're born, they don't give a crap. I'm pro-life, but I am pro-life for the life of that child and the life of that individual.”
The Cook Political Report ranks Utah’s 1st Congressional District solidly Republican, meaning it’s not a competitive race. Still, Parry said he hopes voters don’t just choose candidates based on their party affiliations, and that they consider he’s a Democrat because of his faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“My religious values make me want to take care of the most vulnerable and the most marginalized in our society, and the Republican party has left those people behind,” he said. “So just take a look. If our politics don't line up, don't vote. But at least take a look.”
If Parry were to win the election, he would be the first Democrat to hold the seat in nearly four decades.
To learn more about Moore and Parry’s positions, check out KUER’s voter guide.