2020 election: Utah 1st Congressional District race — candidates, issues, key dates and debates

Republican Blake Moore and Democrat Darren Parry, candidates for the 1st Congressional District seat, participate in a debate at the Triad Center on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020.

(Kristin Murphy, KSL, File)

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's first congressional district will look different in 2021.

Rep. Rob Bishop, who has represented northern Utah in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2003, announced last year that he would step aside and not seek re-election. It's guaranteed that Utah will have at least one new representative in Washington next year.

The person who assumes the role will be quickly tasked with representing the region as Congress handles COVID-19, budget and legislation issues, as well as many other topics at the forefront in Washington.

The field

Major party candidates

  • Blake Moore, business executive (Republican Party)
  • Darren Parry, former chair of the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation (Democratic Party)

Write-in candidates

Eliminated from the race

Jamie Cheek (D), Kerry Gibson (R), Bob Stevenson, (R), Katie Witt (R)

The latest

What's next

  • Election Day: Nov. 3

Key Issues

These are how the two leading candidates view some of the main issues for Utahns based on their platform websites.

COVID-19 economy: On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell expressed concern about the future of the economy if another COVID-19 relief package isn't passed in Washington. Discussions of a bill that would help out hardest-hit industries appear gridlocked until after the November election with both parties pointing fingers at each other.

This comes after Congress agreed on the CARES Act at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., especially as many businesses across the country closed for precautionary reasons.


Moore: “I support the CARES Act and the Payment Protection Program, but I do not feel we took a strategic approach to the way we applied it. For example, there are industries largely unaffected by the need to work remotely, and other industries were forced to shut their doors entirely. By employing smarter, more proactive policies, we could have created a more tailored approach to better support those people and companies that needed it most. … We need to rely more on state and local stakeholders to properly implement them. Our small and rural businesses are the engine of our economy and we need to keep them top-of-mind when considering further economic policies.”

Parry: “There are three steps in my plan for the economy. Investment is infrastructure, investment in our youth, and bridge-building across the globe.”

This would include expanding broadband internet through rural America, improving education and putting an end to foreign trade wars, he explained.

Health care: COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of health care in the U.S. in many ways even if it was already a big issue for many Utahns. It's another issue the candidates have zeroed in on.


Parry: “The Federal Government spent over $1 Trillion in 2019 on Medicare and Medicare alone. This is about 25% of our annual spending. Health care is a complex and large issue to tackle, but I believe it is one we can fix together."

Parry wrote that his plan includes making health care prices more transparent, universal health care coverages “when it comes to certain conditions and illnesses” and taking “preventative measures” to curb suicide, as well as mental illness and opioid addiction.

Moore: “I will work to replace the Affordable Care Act with a market-driven solution that gives more flexibility to the states and focuses on the following three pillars: 1. Improve choices and lower costs, while protecting vulnerable Americans; 2. Give flexibility and resources to states to achieve those goals; and 3. Ensure people can opt into the private coverage of their choice.”

Schools: Education is a topic at the center for many Utahns. Even before the pandemic led to a drastic shift in teaching, there was a protest over education spending. While most of this issue relies on state funding, it is an issue that the federal government can have a role in.


Moore: “We must limit the federal government’s role in K-12 education and keep it confined to providing resources and promoting evidence-based best practices so educators and students’ families can best serve our children at the state and local level.”

Parry: “I want to create an America where no matter your race, economic status or geography, someone can change their life for the better. The key to doing this is a public education system for everyone.”

Public lands: This is an issue Utahns are always entangled in, especially given that most Utah land is owned by the federal government.


Parry: “Public lands benefit all Utahns by providing access for everyone to enjoy the outdoors whether they hunt, fish, hike, climb or trail run. It should be our priority to protect public lands and the shared heritage they provide for Utahns of all backgrounds.”

Moore: “Utahns have an opportunity to over-communicate how much we care about conserving our beautiful parks, wildlife, and other scenery. We need to work with federal government agencies to provide equitable access and opportunities for recreation-based and agricultural economies to thrive.”

Immigration: While the COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed many issues this year, immigration policy remains a constant topic in America.


Moore: “Once we can secure the border, coming to a solution on reform will be much easier. Streamlining legal immigration will benefit both the immigrants and the American economy, and those who go through the process legally will not be punished by those who do not. We need to enforce the laws we have, establish an understanding of our current state, and create a sensible approach to solving a problem that has evaded us for decades.”

Parry: “I support defending our Dreamers. In a poll conducted in 2017, 71% of Utahns believed in protecting these men and women, boys and girls, who immigrated to our country with their parents. I also support (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), where parents of lawful citizens and permanent citizens can apply for legal status in our country. Soon, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on an important (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) case and its existence (lies) in the balance. It is up to Congress to step up and defend DACA recipients and a vote for me is a vote to defend Dreamers.”

Key dates/developments

  • July 29, 2019: Rep. Rob Bishop, Utah's longest-serving congressman, confirms he won't seek a ninth term in 2020.
  • Feb. 11, 2020: Blake Moore declares intent to gather signatures for the 1st Congressional District race, according to the state elections office.
  • Feb. 20, 2020: Darren Parry tells Logan radio station KVNU that he's running for Congress.
  • March 18, 2020: Parry declared a candidate for the 1st Congressional District by Utah's elections office.
  • April 28, 2020: Moore and Kerry Gibson are voted to advance to the primary by Republican delegates to join Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson and Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt, Cache Valley Daily reports.
  • July 6, 2020: The Associated Press declares Moore the winner of the Republican primary held on June 30. Moore ends up with nearly 3,000 votes ahead of second-place candidate Stevenson, collecting 31% of the total vote for a narrow victory.
  • July 8, 2020: Parry is declared the winner of the Democratic Party primary in an even closer race. He defeats Jamie Cheek by 425 votes, receiving 50.97% of the vote to Cheek's 49.03%.
  • Sept. 16: A Lighthouse Research poll for the Utah Debate Commission finds Moore holds a 49-22% lead over Parry among likely voters.
  • Sept. 24: Moore and Parry meet in a debate held by the Utah Debate Commission.

Watch the debates

2020 Election

Increased mail-in voting, COVID-19, and a variety of state-by-state election formats contribute to a unique 2020 election. As a result, it is likely that many close House and Senate races, as well as the presidency, will not be called on Nov. 3.

States may also shift in outcome in the days or weeks following the election — an expected change experts have warned about as results are returned. While human error happens, both mail-in and in-person voting have extremely low rates of fraud.

The state of Utah has used vote-by-mail since 2012. It has safeguards in place to make sure every ballot it receives is legitimate.

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