Republican U.S. Rep. Blake Moore and Democrat Rick Jones faced off during a debate at Weber State University’s campus in Ogden, butting heads over inflation, local growth and abortion. The 1st Congressional District debate was the second of five congressional debates put on by the Utah Debate Commission.
Moore touted his progress during his freshman term in Washington, while Jones voiced his support for abortion rights and the Biden administration’s approach to bolstering Ukraine.
Jones said during his opening statement he views voter suppression and gerrymandering as focuses of his campaign. Jones said he’s running to “advance American ideals,” which he feels the country is losing sight of.
Moore said he has fulfilled goals like supporting Hill Air Force Base and reversing the “debt culture” in Washington during his term. He said he wants to be an “optimistic, positive conservative voice for the next generation of Americans.”
“I’m thrilled at how I’ve delivered on those things,” Moore said.
Abortion and health care were just two of the topics discussed during Monday’s debate.
“Definitely abortion, in certain circumstances, can be a real health care issue for women,” Jones said. He also said it doesn’t seem feasible to criminalize abortions.
Moore said he “won’t apologize” for “protecting life,” but added there need to be protections in place for women in need.
On health care, Jones said he is been in favor of expanding Medicaid for years, believing it would be one way to reduce costs. Moore touted telehealth as a way to reduce costs, saying the county should embrace the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his closing statement, Jones took a shot at Moore’s residency in Salt Lake City, saying it’s “quite distressing” to District 1 constituents that their elected official doesn’t live within the boundaries.
“I am the one candidate who actually lives in the district,” said Jones, who lives in West Haven.
Following the debate, Moore told reporters that the barb was expected. He added, “(Jones) can’t take away the fact that I’m from Ogden.”
“My goodness, I grew up rollerblading right outside these front doors,” Moore said, gesturing toward the street entrance of the Val A. Browning Center where the debate took place. He added that he is just a block away from the district’s new boundaries, which now include parts of Salt Lake City.
Moore, who is seeking reelection for the first time as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, easily fended off two Republican primary challengers in June, earning 58% of the vote. The three other members of Utah’s U.S. House delegation also easily won their primary bids.
Moore’s campaign has raised well over $1 million this year alone, while Jones had raised less than $5,000 as of last month, meaning he hasn’t raised enough money to file a report with the Federal Election Commission.
Jones, though lesser known, has been on northern Utah ballots in the past. He twice ran for a spot in the Legislature, once in 2006 and again in 2018 and lost both times.
Jones moved from Michigan to Utah to attend Brigham Young University in the 1970s. He later moved to Weber County where he managed a dairy farm for 14 years. He is mainly a piano teacher nowadays, but he has worked as an adjunct professor at Weber State and holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Utah.
The Utah Debate Commission will host two more U.S. House debates later this week. House District 4 candidates will debate Wednesday at the University of Utah, and House District 2 candidates will square off Friday at Southern Utah University.
A fifth and final debate will take place next Monday between U.S. Sen. Mike Lee and opponent Evan McMullin.