SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time in 17 years, the 1st Congressional District will welcome a newcomer — either a Republican former foreign service officer or a Democrat who is a tribal leader of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.
Blake Moore and Darren Parry may be opposites in many instances when it comes to their political ideology, but common themes unite them in their quest to secure a victory in the Nov. 3 general election.
Both men want to safeguard Hill Air Force Base, a critical economic driver for the entire state but particularly in northern Utah and the well from which springs a thriving and growing aerospace industry.
Both men also see this congressional seat as a call to serve their country and residents of the 1st District, which by its vast geographic boundaries includes an eclectic mix of industries such as ranching, farming, oil and gas development, and public lands with recreation hot spots offering diverse amenities such as Bear Lake and the Golden Spike National Historical Park.
“I can actually sum it up with one word: opportunity. The 1st District is chock-full of opportunity,” Moore, a Republican, said. “Some parts of the state don’t even recognize it.”
While some areas of the state are courting manufacturing jobs, Moore said what is being sought elsewhere is already being done in Weber, Davis and Box Elder counties with their strong manufacturing base.
Moore’s campaign has been slowed somewhat this month after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 7 and began exhibiting symptoms. He came out of quarantine on Friday and is ready resume more active politicking, but safely, his campaign stressed.
The 1st District seat, which has been held by retiring Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, for nearly two decades, presents an opportunity for voters to select a new voice to represent them and their values.
For Democratic hopeful Parry, it means taking care of the state’s most vulnerable.
“Those tribal values have been steeped into me and is who I am today. Politically, I reside in the space in the middle,” he said.
Parry, in fact, joins Moore in saying fiscal restraint needs to be a top priority in Washington.
“I don’t believe the government is the answer to everything,” Parry said. “I believe we have to balance the budget and live within our means.”
Just like a household budget, prudent money managers cut off their cable service or go out to eat less often, Moore said.
“Raising revenue and raising taxes will only exacerbate the problem,” Moore said, adding if the country’s leaders could balance the budget some 20 years ago, it could be done again with enough will.
Parry and Moore also do not differ in their stand on a U.S. Supreme Court nominee going forward despite its late nature in the election cycle.
“I am bucking my party on this,” Parry said. “But the president was right when he said he was elected for four years ... He was elected for four years, like it or not, that is how it is. I will never put party over people.”
On public lands issues issues, the two do differ.
Moore said Utah’s public lands merit protection, but when managed for multiple use, that multiple use should continue.
“It is funny how it has become such a partisan issue. Utah is a public lands state, it has always been a public lands state and it will always be a public lands state.”
To Moore, it is reasonable that when it makes sense to have more local control, or more state involvement in the management of public lands, that should be pursued.
Parry agrees that local voices need a seat at the table, especially in terms of conservation.
“My top priorities are climate change and public lands and making sure we take care of the environment,” he said.
The extraction of oil and gas is complex challenge for Parry — the Ute Tribe in the district depend on it for its livelihood — but he said it needs to end at some point.
“We’ve got to get away from oil and gas, but we are not there yet,” Parry said.
Moore believes his business experience in a consulting firm and his former work in the U.S. Foreign Service — serving both domestically and abroad in Asia — makes him qualified for the seat in Congress to deal with both financial and foreign affairs issues such as the military. The vast amount of public lands in Utah is also important, bringing up a role he could play on the House Natural Resources Committee, like Bishop.
“I think I have something unique to offer,” Moore said, adding he would search out private sector solutions to help the country navigate its challenges.
Parry said his leadership in the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation has taught him to be a bridge builder and schooled him in working with the governor’s office and the Utah Legislature on issues of interest to his tribe and Native Americans in general.
While the two men’s campaigns have been grounded in civility, there are areas where their paths diverge and Parry, in particular, believes there are key differences that set him apart from his rival.
Parry is 60, while Moore is 40.
“I have grown kids his age. I think about what kind of leader I would have been at 40, which is what Mr. Moore is today. ... I have been able to build bridges among people,” he said. “More than anything we need to just listen to each other and work together for the common good. I think that would be the biggest difference between the two of us. Not that I don’t think he would do a good job, but this is something I have done all my life. There is a reason Indian chiefs are wise old men: They have seen it.”
Parry also criticized Moore’s residency outside of the district — he currently lives in Salt Lake City although he has lived within the 1st District and said he plans to return when personally possible.
Moore said each day of the campaign he has become more energized in the conviction that the 1st District and a congressional seat will help him champion the values of Utah residents and promote the ideals of Utah’s humming financial economy as a blueprint for D.C. to follow.
“Utah is the best-managed state in the country, and we need to go and change how Washington operates,” he said.
Parry conceded he knows that being a Democrat makes it a tough road to walk on a potential path to victory.
“At the end of the day, you are still a Democrat in the 1st District,” he said. “I just hope people take a look at what I stand for and not dismiss me.”