SALT LAKE CITY – U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) claimed victory after a debate hosted by the Utah Debate Commission on Thursday.
But so did his opponents in the race for the 1st Congressional District.
“I won,” Moore said to reporters, “because I’m constantly, relentlessly pursuing what my constituents need and what they are frustrated with.
“That’s my message and I’ll keeping driving it home.”
But challenger Tina Cannon drove her message home as well.
“I live in the 1st District,” she said, repeating her charge that Moore does not reside within the district’s boundaries. “I’ve spent my life in this district. I know this district like the back of my hand because it has been the back of my hand.
“This is my home … It’s pretty hard to represent a district if you’re not willing to live in it.”
Former civilian intelligence officer Andrew Badger also claimed victory, saying the event was very professionally run and provided him an opportunity to emphasize his message.
“We were able to draw a clear distinction between my ‘America First’ approach and the congressional establishment’s approach of ‘going along to get along’,” he said.
The debate in the race for Utah’s 1st Congressional District was the only one to go off as planned by the Utah Debate Commission. After failing to agree with the Utah Republican Party on issues relating to moderators and questions, the GOP discouraged its incumbent candidates from participating.
In the 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts, incumbent Representatives John Curtis and Burgess Owens took that advice. The Debate Commission’s events went ahead, with challengers Chris Herrod and Jake Hunsaker fielding questions with no opposition.
In the race for Sen. Mike Lee’s seat, GOP challengers Becky Edwards and Ally Isom had a field day on Thursday evening with the incumbent represented by an empty podium.
The debate in the 2nd Congressional District was cancelled altogether after incumbent Rep. Chris Stewart and challenger Erin Rider both declined to participate.
But Moore said that he was happy to any the opportunity to defend his record.
The 1st Congressional District debate was moderated by GOP party stalwart Thomas Wright, former Utah Republican Party chair and an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 2020.
With the GOP primary less than a month away, Moore said that he will continue to focus on communicating with constituents in town hall meetings, both virtually and in-person.
“We’ll keep doing what we’re doing,” Cannon said, “good old-fashioned politicking.
“This is a grassroots effort,” she added. “We’ll go door-to-door, make phone calls, online and TV ads, you name it.”
Badger said that he’s relying on upcoming mailers, some radio and TV ads and hundreds of volunteers to spread his message.
“The incumbent has a lot of advantages …” he acknowledged. “But we have a lot of people knocking on doors.
“At the end of the day, I’ll take a door-knock, followed by face-to-face interaction with somebody, over a TV ad with a 30-second sound bite.”
Moore will face Badger and Cannon in the June 28 GOP primary. Ballots will begin going out in the mail on June 7.