Democratic physician offers prescription for ills of Rob Bishop era
November 27, 2015
A physician has offered a prescription for the ills he sees in the era of Congressman Rob Bishop.
Democrat Peter Clemens has started a second bid to unseat the popular Republican congressman whose district stretches through Park City and surrounding Summit County, outlining a platform heavy on issues like the environment and families while also criticizing the incumbent’s record.
Clemens, 60, is from North Ogden and is a specialist in wound and hyperbaric care. He is the first person to declare a candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District. Bishop has easily dispatched his Democratic challengers and is serving his seventh term in Congress.
Clemens said state Democratic leaders approached him about a campaign in 2016. He said it appears he has the backing of the state party. The campaign will not be formalized until the March filing window. If more than one Democrat files campaign paperwork, the party would need to select its candidate during the state convention or in a primary election if none of the candidates is able to secure enough delegate support at the convention.
Clemens competed for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District in 2014, eventually losing the party contest to Donna McAleer, a Pinebrook resident. McAleer won the nomination against Clemens in a second round of balloting at the state Democratic Party convention. Bishop then beat her by a wide margin on Election Day that year.
"The race requires the right candidate running from the right part of the district," Clemens said in an interview this week.
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Weber County and Davis County are the heavily populated parts of the 1st Congressional District while Summit County’s population accounts for a small percentage of the overall numbers in the district. McAleer enjoyed a strong showing in Summit County, but she was routed elsewhere in the district as Bishop won in a landslide. McAleer also lost to Bishop in 2012, an especially tough year for Democrats in the state as Republicans flocked to the polls to support Utah favorite Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Clemens said his campaign will stress topics like air and water quality. He relates those environmental topics to the economy in the district. Clemens said environmental issues could someday threaten Park City’s snowpack.
"I don’t think anyone’s going to come to our state when our air is dirty," he said, adding that protecting wild places and other land is important in the state.
Clemens, meanwhile, said he will support the middle class. He said he wants federal tax policies that protect the middle class and working families. He supports a tax structure that ensures people "pay their fair share."
"Great attention needs to be paid to working families in Utah," he said.
His economic platform includes rewarding companies that produce goods domestically. Clemens also wants Utah to become the country’s top producer of sustainable energy. He said the state could be a "global leader in sustainable energy development," identifying solar power and wind power as having strong prospects. Clemens said he wants the U.S. to become energy independent, meaning that the nation does not import fuel, but he was unsure how long it would take to reach that goal.
Clemens has sharply criticized Bishop since the early days of the 2014 campaign. Clemens said at that time many people saw Bishop as being "disinterested and uncooperative." He also said at that time Bishop only listened to a "very narrow group of people."
Clemens continued his criticism of the incumbent as he started the 2016 campaign. He said Bishop supports special interests "at the peril of everyday working people" in Utah. Bishop is "tone deaf" to topics of importance to people who want to live in Utah, Clemens said. He said there is a distrust of the federal government.
"Rob Bishop is part of that problem," Clemens said.