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Moore tapped for House leadership vacancy caused by Johnson promotion

Two-term Utah lawmaker has criticized party litmus tests

Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, addresses the media after winning the position of House Republican Conference vice chair on Wednesday.
Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, addresses the media after winning the position of House Republican Conference vice chair on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans have chosen Utah’s Blake D. Moore as a moderate replacement for Speaker Mike Johnson’s old spot in party leadership.

Moore, a second-term Republican, defeated six other candidates in a closed GOP meeting to become the party’s conference vice chair Wednesday morning.

With no prior political experience before being elected to Congress, Moore is continuing a yearlong slingshot to prominence in GOP circles. He started 2023 earning a seat on the coveted Ways and Means Committee and took on a larger conference-wide leadership role, becoming vice chair of the Republican Governance Group. The 40-plus member bloc of center-right lawmakers is one of the “five families,” or ideological caucuses that members have identified as having sway within the GOP.

Moore also carries even further moderate credentials as a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. The group, which is equally split between Republicans and Democrats, says it works to troubleshoot thorny issues.

Compared to his fellow Republicans, Moore has signaled willingness to move the GOP away from former President Donald Trump. In a 2021 op-ed in the Deseret News, Moore underscored the necessity for the party to “rebuild” itself around economic policies and including more women and minorities.

“I’m a Republican not because I swore loyalty to any leaders or voices in our party or because I grew up with a particular ideology,” he wrote. “Divisive rhetoric and litmus tests within our party inhibit our ability to act on shared principles and craft enduring, meaningful solutions for the American people.”

He voiced a similar sentiment at a press conference after his selection as conference vice chair. Moore added that keeping focused on a positive Republican vision should help carry their party into 2024 and boost Republicans to victory in districts carried by President Joe Biden in the last election.

Unlike the majority of his Republican colleagues, Moore voted to certify the electoral votes from Pennsylvania and Arizona after the Jan 6, 2021, riot by Trump supporters at the Capitol. As the vice chair of the conference, he will also be the highest-ranking member of the GOP to vote for a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to investigate that attack.

Through his first term in office, Moore broke with his party more frequently than his predecessor. He voted with Republicans 94.2 percent of the time in 2021 and 90.3 percent of the time in 2022, according to a CQ Roll Call analysis of party-line votes. Speaker Johnson, on the other hand, was more unified with his colleagues, voting with Republicans 99.6 percent of the time in 2021 and 97.3 percent in 2022.

Moore was one of only 39 Republicans to vote to codify federal recognition of same-sex marriages. But both Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and Majority Whip Tom Emmer also voted for that measure.

Working with Stefanik, Moore also brings added youth to GOP leadership. Both he and Stefanik were born in the 1980s, as was current Chief Deputy Whip Guy Reschenthaler.

Moore was born in Ogden, Utah, and joined a mission in South Korea before graduating college with a bachelor’s degree and going to work in medical sales. 

He later founded his own consulting firm and worked extensively in Asia. Moore spent a few years in government as a Foreign Service officer in the State Department, but went back to management consulting.

In 2020, Moore defeated three other Republicans to win the nomination to succeed former GOP Rep. Rob Bishop. He cruised to a general election win in November.

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