SALT LAKE CITY — Silver-haired, tan-faced Rep. Rob Bishop, who likes to go sans socks, is also liking Tuesday night election results, with the eight-term incumbent fending off two challengers.
GOP member Bishop, who chairs the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resource and is the senior member on the House Committee on Armed Services, has said this will be his last term in Congress. He's been rumored as a candidate in the Utah governor's race in 2020.
Unofficial results showed Bishop is getting 63 percent of the vote compared to Democratic Lee Castillo's 24 percent and United Utah Party contender Eric Eliason's 11 percent.
Castillo, an openly gay Democrat who is a social worker, ran a hearty grassroots campaign that touched on all corners of the 1st District, which covers the northern half of the state to the Idaho border and stretches over to the oil- and gas-rich Uinta Basin. Castillo, 40, campaigned on an inclusive campaign that declared health care as a human right.
Bishop, 67, also had a challenge with a member of the newly emerging United Utah Party's Eliason, a fiscal conservative angling for major government spending reforms and striking to lure those voters in the middle of what he says are two extremes.
The House natural resources committee Bishop leads handles issues of critical importance in Utah because of the state's heavy public land ownership and concerns over forest land management, wildfires, wild horses, funding for national parks, and oil and gas revenue.
Bishop ran an active campaign this year — even though he admits he doesn't like that part of his job — hosting town hall meetings and visiting multiple areas in the state for roundtable discussions on a variety of issues.5 comments on this story
Eliason, 46, also did his share of glad-handing to win voters, emphasizing his experience as an adjunct professor at the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University and a partner in jNivin, which invests in and mentors young companies.
Disheartened by what he described as the vast political divide between parties, the voiceless voter in the middle, Eliason jumped into politics after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The United Utah Party fielded more than a dozen candidates in congressional, state and county races.