Blake Moore wins Utah’s tight 1st Congressional District GOP race

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo Businessman Blake Moore, speaks during the 1st Congressional District Republican debate at KUED, Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

Businessman Blake Moore was declared the winner Monday in Utah’s close 1st Congressional District race by The Associated Press, making it likely he will be northern Utah’s next representative.

The victory call came a short time after Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson said Monday that Moore was on track to win — even though Stevenson did not concede formally.

“The trends are strongly in Mr. Moore’s favor,” Stevenson said, “and we expect that” to continue.

He added he would continue to watch vote updates in coming days and hope. But, “when the final vote comes in, I’ll call and congratulate Blake Moore,” Stevenson said.

While Moore still faces the November general election against the Democratic nominee, he has a clear advantage to be the successor to nine-term Rep. Rob Bishop. A Democrat has not held the seat since Gunn McKay lost reelection in 1980 to Republican Jim Hansen.

On Monday, updated vote counts showed Moore leading by 2,837 votes, widening a 2,669-vote margin that he held after updates last Thursday and an 811-vote lead Wednesday.

Moore now has 30.9% of the vote compared with 28.7% for Stevenson, 23.6% for dairyman and former Weber County Commissioner Kerry Gibson, and 16.8% for Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt.

Moore’s campaign chairman, Matt Lusty, was happy to hear Stevenson’s forecast plus the call of the race by the AP — and agreed that Moore is on track to win.

“Most of the outstanding ballots are in Weber County, where Blake has done particularly well,” Lusty said. “We want to make sure that every voter has a chance to have their ballot counted. Of course, we’re absolutely enthusiastic about how well Blake has been doing and how well voters have responded to his message.”

Democrats also have a tight primary in the district.

Darren Parry, the moderate former chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, had 50.9% of that vote while progressive Jamie Cheek, a vocational rehabilitation manager for the state, had 49.1% in Monday’s updated totals.

They are separated by 424 votes.

The GOP race in the district was often wild, including years of controversy that trailed Gibson in his elected offices, Moore living outside the district, Witt giving high-profile support to a proposed concert to attack and openly defy state COVID-19 restrictions, and Stevenson giving extra large amounts of money to his own campaign.

Moore, who says he is a former foreign service officer and is a current executive in the Cicero business consulting group, was criticized by the other candidates for not living in the district. He lives on the east bench of Salt Lake City, about 15 miles from the nearest border with the 1st District at the Summit County line. He has said he will become a district resident if he is elected.

Other candidates attacked that saying it’s tough to know the needs and desires of constituents if Moore doesn’t live with them. Moore said he grew up in Ogden, in the district. “When you’re from Ogden, that never leaves you.”