Democrat, United Utah Party candidate, GOP incumbent debate
LOGAN, Utah (AP) — A Democrat and a United Utah Party candidate in the state’s 1st Congressional District squared off against Republican incumbent Rep. Rob Bishop at the Utah Debate Commission’s debate.
Bishop’s opponents, United Utah Party candidate Eric Eliason and Democrat Lee Castillo, attempted Wednesday to paint the Republican as a career politician who represents special interests rather than Utah voters.
Eliason criticized Bishop for pushing to diminish the size of Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument without protecting those areas from mining extraction.
“Follow the money,” Eliason said. “Ninety percent of Mr. Bishop’s campaign finances come from out of the state of Utah. I think it’s around 80 percent right now and No. 1 on the list, or No. 2 depending on the year, is oil and gas. His committee has received $6 million from the oil and gas industry. I have a hard time seeing how our congressman can be objective when that is the case.”
Castillo thanked Bishop for his years of service, but then stressed it was time for him to retire.
“You have the opportunity to have someone who has your back,” he said to voters.
Bishop, the 16-year incumbent, touted his experience in government and Congress and his position as the only conservative in the race — values he says have served him well in Washington and with the majority of Utah voters.
As for campaign donations? Bishop said they don’t play into his decisions.
“Nobody really knows and sees my heart,” he said. “I find it somewhat unfair and somewhat offensive when people say I do things because of money. I do not sell my votes.”