Conservative Republicans have another fighter in the Utah Senate race for Mitt Romney’s seat.
Mayor Trent Skaggs has announced that he is jumping into the fray against Romney, a billionaire financier and former presidential candidate.
— MarciJoy (@msmarcijoy) May 23, 2023
“Utah needs another proven, conservative fighter in the Senate,” Skaggs wrote. “We need someone who isn’t afraid to stand up to the establishment in Washington. That’s who I am, but I need your help to get there.”
Utah needs another proven, conservative fighter in the Senate. We need someone who is not afraid to stand up to the establishment in Washington. This is who I am, but I need your help to get there https://t.co/yg5tnTG4mV pic.twitter.com/qof9JQYi7C
— Mayor Trent Staggs (@MayorStaggs) May 23, 2023
Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson announced in April the formation of an exploratory committee, also positioning himself as a “conservative fighter” who embodies the state’s values, in contrast to what he argued that it was Romney’s status as a “career politician.” The move allows Wilson to raise funds and campaign across the state, though it falls short of making his candidacy official.
Romney, who has yet to declare his re-election plans, recently filed initial paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. However, he declined to comment on Wilson’s announcement or his own candidacy.
Wilson’s exploratory committee sheds light on the Republican Party’s perspective on members who are willing to criticize former President Donald Trump, following the chastisement faced by figures such as former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney in the GOP primaries or his decision not to seek re-election.
Romney, 76, has historically been highly regarded in Utah, particularly for his prominence within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his pivotal role in saving the 2002 Winter Olympics amid a bribery scandal However, his open opposition to Trump and the rightward turn of the Republican Party has raised doubts about his re-election prospects.
“I hope the jury of the American people will come to the same conclusion about Donald Trump,” Romney told CNN. “He’s just not fit to be the president of the United States and to be the person that we stand before our children and the world as the leader of the free world.”
“At some point when the people who work with you, your cabinet secretaries and juries conclude that you have done something very wrong, it is time for us to recognize that the vast majority of those who have worked with him are right and he is right. bad”, he added.
The June 2024 primary campaign will coincide with the GOP’s presidential primary season, and if Romney decides to run, his criticism of the former president will likely become a focal point. While Romney’s willingness to challenge his own party has upset Republican activists in Utah, it made little impact in his last Senate primary in 2018, where he won a landslide victory with voters despite losing the convention of the state party.
Carson Jorgensen, chairman of the Utah Republican Party, said he does not foresee Romney seeking re-election, citing the senator’s recent absence from state GOP events. Jorgensen believes the changing dynamics of the party will influence the presidential and Senate races and how they intersect. He also expects high voter turnout due to negative sentiment toward President Joe Biden among Utahns, which could lead to numerous challengers entering the race given the scarcity of available Senate seats.
Jorgensen mentioned other potential candidates rumored to run, including Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs and 3rd District Congressman John Curtis, both regulars at Republican events.
Although Wilson is the first to establish an exploratory committee, former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz expressed consideration of a return in February, while state Attorney General Sean Reyes has also faced pressure to enter the race.
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