Rep. Rob Bishop (R)
Elected: 2002, 4th term.
Born: July 13, 1951, Kaysville .
Home: Brigham City.
Education: U. of UT, B.A. 1974.
Family: Married (Jeralyn Hansen); 5 children.
Elected office: UT House of Reps., 1978-94; Speaker, 1993-94.
Professional Career: H.S. teacher, 1974-2002; Chair, UT Rep. Party, 1997-2001.
The congressman from the 1st District is Rob Bishop, a Republican first elected in 2002. He grew up in Davis County and graduated from the University of Utah. He became a high school history and government teacher in Box Elder County. In 1978, at age 27, he was elected to the state House. In 1993 and 1994, he was House speaker. He continued working as a teacher after leaving the Legislature, and also worked as a lobbyist for state Republicans and for the National Rifle Association. When the seat became open, both Bishop and former House Majority Leader Kevin Garn ran. As a former state party chair for four years, Bishop won 58% of the vote at the Republican nominating convention. With mostly similar conservative views, their chief difference was a contentious issue in Utah, the ongoing battle between banks and credit unions. The credit union lobby endorsed Bishop who, as a lobbyist in 1999, helped defeat legislation to curtail the credit unions’ tax-exempt status. Garn, the wealthy chairman of a Layton bank, had the support of Utah bankers. The credit unions were the more valuable ally: They poured at least $100,000 in independent expenditures into an anti-Garn campaign, which helped even out the financial balance since Garn outspent Bishop by 4-to-1. Bishop won the primary 60%-40%. Democrats believed they had a chance in the general election with nominee Dave Thomas, a wealthy advertising executive and an anti-abortion Mormon bishop who presented himself as a fiscal conservative and “a regular guy” not tied to special interests. Bishop won more easily than expected, 61%-37%.
|Rob Bishop (R)||196,799||(65%)||($325,769)|
|Morgan Bowen (D)||92,469||(30%)||($24,587)|
|Kirk Pearson (CNP)||7,397||(2%)|
|Joseph Buchman (Lib)||6,780||(2%)|
|Rob Bishop (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (63%), 2004 (68%), 2002 (61%)
In the House, Bishop usually has been a reliable conservative vote. In 2005, Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert signaled that Bishop had favorably impressed party insiders by giving him a seat on the Rules Committee. But the Democratic takeover of the House in 2007 forced him from Rules. He moved to the committees on Armed Services, Education and Labor, and Natural Resources.
Bishop now is the ranking Republican at the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee—a useful assignment in a state where the federal government controls nearly two-thirds of the land. It also puts him in the middle of environment and energy issues. He unsuccessfully tried to block two bills sponsored by House Democrats who sought federal protection for rivers in the Northeast United States. As gas prices skyrocketed in the summer of 2008, Bishop introduced the Americans for American Energy Act, which would increase domestic energy production, including the construction of 10 refineries on public lands. Bishop consistently criticized Democrats for refusing to debate increased domestic oil production. He found more legislative success on home-state issues. He pushed a bill through the House to facilitate a land exchange between Bountiful City, Utah and the federal government. The bill would give the city ownership of a 40-acre rifle range that the city wants jurisdiction over.
On other local issues, Bishop in 2005 won enactment of his bill to block private disposal of nuclear waste on the Skull Valley Goshute Indian reservation and to convert the land to a wilderness area. He helped protect Hill Air Force Base from the base-closing review that year as well. He was criticized at home for supporting a change in federal law to permit Envirocare of Utah (now known as EnergySolutions) to dispose additional radioactive waste material from a bomb plant in Ohio. Envirocare, which was a client of his former lobbying firm, dropped the proposal after three months of controversy. Bishop later advocated recycling the waste.
Bishop has been comfortably re-elected every two years. Bishop’s 2008 opponent repeatedly labeled him as a pawn of special interests, but the charge failed to resonate with voters, and Bishop won 65%-30%.