SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, easily beat Democratic challenger Morgan Bowen in the race for the 1st Congressional District.
Final unoffocial results had Bishop capturing 69 percent of the vote to Bowen's 24 percent.
Before polls closed, Bishop told GOP faithful gathered at the Hilton Hotel that he would work toward his goal to reduce Washington's power and influence.
"When I end my tenure as your congressman … I will be able to truthfully say I can do less to you now than I did when I was first elected," he said.
Bowen, 45, knew early on that it would be an uphill battle to oust the Republican incumbent, but said the country's sorry economic condition prompted him to run. He also challenged Bishop in 2008 but was trounced in that contest.
Reached via cell phone at his parents' home late Tuesday, Bowen would only say, "Bishop has declared victory, so I wish him well."
Wayne Holland, Utah Democratic Party chairman, said the candidate knew from the day he filed it was going to be a tough year, but "he suited up and showed up and campaigned throughout the district."
Despite the loss, Bowen doesn't intend to disappear from the political scene, Holland said, adding that voters will be hearing from him for perhaps the next decade.
"He wants to make a difference. He will continue to be a voice in our party," Holland said. "He's one of those who believes strongly that voters have some options."
An LDS seminary teacher at Sky View High School in Cache County, Bowen said he wanted to take on a Congress that all to often is "up for sale" and dominated by corporate cronyism.
He viewed Bishop as part of that system that needs a thorough cleansing to right itself. But voters apparently rejected Bowen's message, preferring instead to return Bishop to Washington, where he serves on the Armed Services Committee as well the Natural Resources and Business and Labor committees.
Bishop told those at the Hilton that with Republicans poised to regain control of the House, it will be time to restore balance to the political process and instill confidence in the American worker by fostering a pro-business climate. Of utmost importance, he added, is to not raise taxes.
In his tenure as the congressional representative of northern Utah, Bishop has been a stalwart supporter of Hill Air Force Base and efforts to cultivate a burgeoning aerospace industry.
He said Hill's role in facilitating that industry is critical not only to meet its needs, but as a way to diversify the economy and add high-paying jobs to the area.
Bishop has also been at the forefront of a loud chorus of criticism directed at the Obama administration over public-lands policies he says are hostile to Western states.
When rumors surfaced earlier this year regarding the possible designation of more than a dozen new national monuments — including two in Utah — Bishop sought copies of the associated "draft" document.
He also pushed hard for copies of an internal audit that reviewed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's actions in connection with 77 leases he pulled after they had been auctioned to the highest bidder in Salt Lake City.
Bishop, as House chairman of the Western Caucus, said actions like those have delivered a blow to the economies of Western states because so much of their land is tied up in federal ownership.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company