This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Conventional wisdom says it's counterproductive to vote out a senior member of Congress who chairs a committee. Rep. Rob Bishop is quick to remind people of that.
And Bishop will go on to say that his single most important purpose as a Utah representative in the federal government is to get the federal government out of Utahns' lives. He wants to use his federal power to remove federal power.
Not surprisingly, that has been a hard sell in the seat of federal power. He was a founding member of the 10th Amendment Task Force in 2010, which has struggled to push through legislation to strengthen states' rights.
Of course, Bishop saves his biggest resentment for federal land managers. He has been at war for his entire 14-year congressional career with them, and he carries water for energy and anti-environmental forces from his position as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
It is from that position that he introduced what is arguably his signature piece of legislation, the Public Lands Initiative. It was an admittedly ambitious attempt to solve multiple land conflicts across a huge swath of Utah, but it has fallen victim to a flawed process that gave county commissioners too much at the expense of Indian Tribes and environmental advocates. Once again, the unfailing commitment to undo federal control leaves it unlikely to get far.
Bishop is angry. Faced with the very real possibility that President Obama will use the Antiquities Act to designate a national monument in Utah before he leaves office (the same act that first protected four of Utah's five national parks), Bishop went so far as to tell one group last year, "If anyone here likes the Antiquities Act the way it was written, die. I mean stupidity out of the gene pool."
Maybe it's time for a healer.
Peter Clemens is a rookie politician, but he isn't naïve. He is a retired Army Reserve captain who, like Bishop, speaks forcefully about the need to protect Hill Air Force Base, the largest employer in the 1st District.
He is also a practicing physician with hands-on experience with the U.S. health care system. Rather than abandon the Affordable Care Act, he wants to move toward the model used in Germany, in which everyone has baseline health insurance and can add to it from the private health insurance market.
He's a Democrat, advocating to expand access to free college and increase subsidies for clean energy while cutting incentives for fossil fuels. He supports restoring the ban on assault weapons, and he has also advocated more than any Utah congressional candidate for equal pay for women and affordable child care.
Clemens can be a legislator in the tradition of Rep. Gunn McKay, the last Democrat to represent northern Utah in Congress. During the 1970s, McKay also fought for jobs at Hill, and he worked to change the Clean Air Act to accommodate Utah energy development. At the same time, he gained more funding for Utah national parks and monuments and crafted legislation to create the Lone Peak Wilderness Area.
Voters in the 1st District should go with the guy who wants the federal government to do more for Utah, not less.