Park City Republicans eliminated in bid for congressional nomination
None of the Park City-area candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District advanced out of the state GOP convention last weekend as only one of them — Howard Wallack — even remained in the running into the late rounds of balloting.
Four people from the Park City area were competing for the nomination as the GOP attempts to retain the seat of the retiring Republican Rep. Rob Bishop. The others — Zach Hartman, JC DeYoung and Chadwick Fairbanks III — were eliminated in earlier rounds. Wallack lost the bid in the ninth round of balloting and never received more than 14.2% of the votes.
Blake Moore, a management consultant whose background is in the federal foreign and intelligence service, and Kerry Gibson, who is a dairy farmer with experience as a state legislator and county commissioner, will compete in a June primary to determine the Republican nomination after they cleared the convention. They will share the primary ballot with Katie Witt, who is the mayor of Kaysville, and Bob Stevenson, a Davis County commissioner. Witt and Stevenson gathered signatures to earn spots on the primary ballot.
The GOP nod in the congressional is crucial since it is likely the winner of the nomination will capture the seat on Election Day in the heavily Republican district.
The Democrats, meanwhile, sent Jamie Cheek and Darren Parry into a primary to decide the nominee.
Park City and surrounding Summit County are within the 1st Congressional District but represent a small percentage of the overall voting population in the district. The largest bloc of voters is centered along the Wasatch Front, including the Ogden area. It was expected that the Park City-area candidates would have difficulty securing enough of the Republican delegates from elsewhere in the district. Wallack said he performed “surprisingly well” in the contest and plans to support the Republican candidate who wins the nomination.
Wallack in an interview acknowledged the geographic challenge of a Park City-area candidate, saying the voting and population centers in the district are located in Davis County, Weber County and Cache County. Prior to the convention, Wallack said, at least 400 delegates signaled to him he was their No. 1 pick. That did not turn out to be the case as the votes were cast, he acknowledged. He also said it was unclear whether the delegates watched each of the candidates’ video messages during the convention, which was held virtually amid the concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We ran a good, clean race. We worked hard,” said Wallack, a retired businessman who lives in the Aerie and is a 22-year Park City resident.
It was Wallack’s second congressional campaign after an unsuccessful 2012 bid in the 2nd Congressional District. He also unsuccessfully campaigned for the Park City Council years ago. Wallack said he does not intend to seek elected office again.
He said he attempted to woo the Republican delegates with a message of change and his status as someone who is not a career politician. Voters should support candidates with a business background such as himself if they want change in Washington, D.C., Wallack said.
Wallack early in the campaign had said “Washington is broken” and the “discourse is terrible.” He also said at that time he wanted to reduce rules and regulations that he sees as hurting business. He said then he was willing to “stand up, name names and kick butt.”
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A Park City business group said the municipal government moved forward with the works without gathering opinions from the organization.