Record editorial: It’s time for Bishop to retire and open the door for a new voice in Congress
It’s time for someone new to occupy Utah’s 1st Congressional District seat.
Rep. Rob Bishop himself seemed to indicate as much when he said before the 2018 election that this term, his ninth in Washington, would be his last. But he now appears to be wavering on that decision, telling reporters last week that he plans to make a final announcement regarding his future by the end of the month.
There’s no question which outcome the majority of Summit County residents are hoping for.
The simplest argument in favor of Bishop stepping away is that he’s been in Washington long enough. The end of his current term will mark his 18th year in Congress, and as advocates for term limits rightly argue, our democracy is strengthened when we infuse it with new voices who can lend fresh perspectives on the issues.
That would be a welcome sight in the 1st District, where the demographic realities have allowed Bishop to easily win reelection every two years without having to defend his record in any meaningful way. He certainly has not been responsive to residents in Summit County, the only place in the district where he does not enjoy broad popularity.
In fact, his record on the issues most important to voters here, such as public lands and climate change, is dreadful.
For instance, rather than using the power afforded him during four years as chair of the House Natural Resources Committee to champion the cause of land preservation, he instead derailed such efforts. Most notably, he helped lead the charge against the Obama administration’s Bears Ears National Monument declaration and supported President Trump’s move to trample it by reducing the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante by a combined nearly 2 million acres.
Likewise, he has consistently toed the Republican line on climate change, disregarding the science that indicates the United States and other countries must take drastic steps immediately if we are to avoid the worst of its effects. His constituents — as well as everyone else — may ultimately pay a steep price for that inaction.
It’s important to note that a call for Bishop to retire does not necessarily equal a demand for a Democrat to replace him. As much as that would please many Summit County voters, the makeup of the district ensures the GOP will continue to hold a firm grip on the seat.
Given that, Bishop’s detractors would settle for progress. Him choosing to step aside, potentially paving the way for a Republican who is committed to fighting for all of his or her constituents and capable of bringing a fresh perspective to Congress to take his place would certainly qualify.
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Our view: The races and measures we’ll decide next month may lack some of the excitement found in even-year elections. But residents in Park City and the Kamas Valley should not be lulled into inaction.