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Reps. Moore, Curtis join centrist GOP push for McCarthy speakership bid

By Tim Vandenack - | Dec 5, 2022

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From left, U.S. Reps. Blake Moore and John Curtis, two of Utah's four U.S. House members. They are both Republicans.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two of Utah’s four U.S. House members — Reps. Blake Moore and John Curtis — are aligning with a centrist Republican organization in calling for U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy to be named speaker of the House.

They aren’t alone. Reps. Burgess Owens and Chris Stewart, Utah’s other U.S. House members, also back McCarthy’s bid.

But with political partisanship fierce at times in Congress and the political leanings of lawmakers a big focus of speculation for constituents, observers and others, Moore and Curtis’ affiliation with the Republican Governance Group on McCarthy hints at their more moderate leanings. It’s notable in an era when GOPers frequently war with each other in Utah and beyond over who is perceived to be more conservative, more closely aligned with former President Donald Trump and more in line with GOP ideals.

Moore, as vice chair of the group, co-signed the letter of support for McCarthy along with Rep. David Joyce, the moderate Ohio Republican who chairs the organization. Fifteen other members of Congress, including Curtis, and four more who are to take office in January, also put their names on the letter, dated last Thursday and publicly released last Friday.

“The American people handed us the gavel, but they did so skeptically,” reads the letter, referring to the tempered gains GOPers made in the U.S. House in last month’s elections, short of many pundits’ expectations. “If we do not immediately put the posturing aside and focus on responsible governance, we will have failed to fulfill the great responsibility they have bestowed upon us before the 118th Congress begins.”

In a statement Monday, Moore, while noting “some posturing among a handful of my colleagues,” called the Republican Governance Group a coalition of “effective and productive conservatives focused on governing and making a difference, not just making a point.” House GOPers, Moore said, think McCarthy will “hold President (Joe) Biden accountable and address the many crises impacting American families.”

Moore, from Salt Lake City, represents Utah’s 1st District, which covers Northern Utah, including Weber County. Curtis, from Provo, represents the 3rd District, which covers much of eastern Utah.

Last week’s Republican Governance Group letter, directed at other U.S. House members ahead of the Jan. 3 vote on the House speakership, emphasized the importance of GOPers working together. It also indicated the focus in the coming congressional session should be on passing legislation that advances GOP ideals, not political grandstanding, a tone Moore has echoed in his public appearances.

“It comes down to a simple choice: Do you want to make a point or a difference? If your answer is the latter, then Kevin McCarthy deserves your full support,” reads the letter, tweeted out by Washington Examiner congressional reporter Juliegrace Brufke.

McCarthy, a California GOPer, is vying for the speakership after Republicans narrowly took control of the House from Democrats in November elections. But GOPers hold just a slim edge over Democrats, and with five conservative lawmakers indicating they may not back McCarthy, according to The Hill, the fight for the speakership could be an intense one.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, currently holds the speaker’s post.

In a statement, Curtis called McCarthy “the best and only” candidate for House speaker, noting the California lawmaker’s help when he was forming the Conservative Climate Caucus. Curtis’ office lauded the Republican Governance Group, noting that many members “also appear on lists of the most bipartisan and effective lawmakers.”

Owens’ office confirmed he backs McCarthy’s bid, but didn’t elaborate. Stewart’s office said the lawmaker “enthusiastically supports” McCarthy.

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