Darren Parry wins Democratic nomination in 1st Congressional District

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) Darren Parry, the Democratic nominee in Utah 1st Congressional District, talks at a May Day celebration in 2019.

After a week of counting by-mail ballots, Darren Parry — the former chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation — has won the Democratic nomination for the 1st Congressional District race, where nine-term GOP Rep. Rob Bishop is retiring.

His opponent, Jamie Cheek, a vocational rehabilitation manager for the state, conceded Wednesday in a tight race where Parry had 51% of the vote to her 49%. She trailed by 441 votes.

Cheek said in a Facebook post, “It has become clear that, however close it may be, the votes are not in our favor. This is not the outcome we hoped or worked so tirelessly for, but that doesn’t take away from what we accomplished. We ran the most progressive, forward-thinking campaign in the history of Utah’s 1st District.”

In a victory statement, Parry thanked district Democrats for their trust as he now will face GOP nominee Blake Moore, a management consultant, in the Nov. 3 general election. Democrats have not won the district in 42 years. The last time was when the late Rep. Gunn McKay won it in 1978.

“From the very first day, this campaign has been focused on what we, as Utahns and Americans, can do to protect our environment, our public lands and the most marginalized,” Parry said.

“We will continue sharing our vision for a better Utah and a better country with all of the residents of our district. We look forward to hearing your stories and traveling through the most beautiful district in the United States.”

Parry, a moderate, said he chose to run to try to bring civility back to politics.

“Some of the greatest crimes in the history of our nation were not caused by hatred, but by indifference. It’s time for good people to stand up,” he says. “I am a bridge builder.”

In a state where candidates often like to proclaim that they are fourth- or fifth-generation Utahns, Parry — who stepped down from his leadership post with the Shoshone tribe to run for Congress — likes to say he is “at least a 50-generation Utahn.”