SALT LAKE CITY – Initial results from Republican primary balloting in Utah’s 1st Congressional District have narrowed that four-way race down to two candidates still in contention.
Surprisingly, dark horse candidate Blake David Moore of Salt Lake City holds a slight lead in a too-close-to-call race with Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson based on preliminary results of the June 30 primary voting.
Counting of additional mail-in ballots will determine whether Moore or Stevenson will win the GOP nod to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop in Congress.
With 73 percent of precincts reporting as of 3 a.m. on July 1, Moore was holding a slight lead over three rivals in the previous day’s GOP primary voting. Of the more than 91,000 ballots cast, initial counts had Moore with 30.2 percent (27,653 votes).
Stevenson, who had been identified as the early front-runner in 1st District polling, had earned about 29.7 percent of the ballots cast (27,077 votes), trailing Moore by nearly 600 votes in the neck-and-neck race.
Of the remaining candidates in the race, former Utah Agriculture commissioner Kerry Gibson had won 23% of the ballots cast, while Mayor Katie Witt of Kaysville earned 17 percent.
Moore is a business consultant with the Cicero Group in Salt Lake City. His background includes experience as a foreign service officer involved in intelligence gathering and analysis for the State Department.
Moore was viewed as a dark horse in the four-way race for the GOP congressional nomination. He finished second behind Gibson in the ranked-choice voting by Republican convention delegates on April 25. Moore was also the only candidate vying to replace Bishop who didn’t even live in the 1st District and, as a political newcomer, faced a huge name-recognition deficit with northern Utah voters.
Although Moore’s rival candidates were well known figures in Republican Party circles, financial disclosures late in the two-month campaign leading up the primary balloting showed Moore with a significant edge in fund-raising. Much of those campaign funds were then allocated to strategic media purchases.
The eventual winner of the GOP nomination in the 1st Congressional District will face off against Democratic candidate Darren Parry of Logan in the general election in November.