UNITED STATES NEWS

Romney gets 1st likely challenger in ’24 Utah Senate primary

Apr 13, 2023, 1:46 PM | Updated: 3:28 pm

FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) — A potential challenger to Republican first-term Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah took a major step Thursday toward jumping into next year’s race, expected to be one of the GOP’s hardest-fought primary contests in 2024.

With memories of Romney’s two votes to impeach former President Donald Trump exploratory committee 14 months before the scheduled primary.

Utah needs a “conservative fighter” who represents its values, not a “professional career politician,” Wilson told The Associated Press in an interview at his real estate office in northern Utah.

“I don’t have any illusions that, as speaker of the house, I’m a household name. But that’s really not what this is about. What this is about is me going out and understanding what people care about,” he said.

The move is just shy of making his campaign official and allows Wilson to raise money and campaign statewide.

Romney has not yet announced plans to seek reelection, but earlier this week filed preliminary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. He declined to comment on his statement of candidacy or Wilson’s announcement on Thursday.

Wilson’s exploratory committee potentially sets up the latest test of Republican Party attitudes toward members willing to criticize Trump after others, such as former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, were punished in GOP primaries or opted not to seek reelection.

Romney, 76, has long been revered in Utah as one of the most prominent members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a person who helped save the 2002 Winter Olympics after a bribery scandal. But the Republican Party’s rightward lurch and his stance as an outspoken Trump antagonist has sparked a growing chorus of questions about his reelection prospects.

The June 2024 primary campaign will overlap with the GOP’s presidential primary season, and should Romney run, Trump’s presence in that race will likely further focus attention on his criticism of the ex-president.

Romney’s willingness to buck his own party has routinely angered GOP activists in Utah and but did little to puncture support for him in his last Senate primary in 2018, when he lost a state party convention ballot but ultimately won with voters in the primary itself, by almost 43 percentage points.

Utah Republican Party Chair Carson Jorgensen said he does not expect Romney to seek reelection given his absences at recent state GOP events. Regardless, he said the party has changed since Romney last ran in ways that will affect the presidential and Senate races and how they become entangled.

Jorgensen added that he anticipates high voter turnout in both contests due to negative attitudes toward President Joe Biden among Utahns. That Romney hasn’t publicly made a decision could encourage many challengers to enter, since Senate seats open up so rarely, he added.

“The list of rumored names goes on and on. I’ve heard Trent Staggs. I’ve heard John Curtis,” Jorgensen said, referring to the mayor of Riverton and 3rd District congressman, respectively. Curtis and Wilson are both fixtures at Republican events, he noted.

Though Wilson is the first to launch an exploratory committee, former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz said in February that he was thinking about running. A representative for state Attorney General Sean Reyes has said many were pressuring him to run as well.

Wilson told AP on Thursday that his decision to consider a primary challenge has little to do with presidential politics or Romney’s impeachment votes. However, he emphasized his background as a native Utahn and his support for Trump to draw a contrast with the Senator, who was born in Michigan, served as governor in Massachusetts and has said he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 or 2020.

“I’m going to do what I have done every election cycle: I will vote for the Republican nominee. I have in the past, and I will again. I think that’s what’s best for our country,” Wilson said.

He declined to say whether he intends to support Trump’s 2024 bid or seek his endorsement.

Jason Perry, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, said polling shows Romney remains popular with moderate Republicans but less so among conservatives.

In a potential primary, he said, “The space that’s more wide open is to the right.”

Wilson, who grew up with 11 siblings in Kaysville, was first elected to Utah’s House in 2010 and has been Speaker his last three terms. Throughout his tenure, he has focused on confronting environmental challenges facing the Great Salt Lake.

He has satisfied conservatives by supporting restrictions on squash a 2020 push to formally rebuke Romney over the impeachment votes.

Like Romney, Wilson has criticized Biden on government spending and energy policy, earlier this year calling the Environmental Protection Agency’s limits on pollution from power plants an “assault on our energy through rule making.”

“I think this is this is a sign of a very interesting election to come,” Perry, the political scientist, said of Wilson’s Thursday announcement.

United States News

Associated Press

Why AP called Michigan for Trump: Race call explained

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press declared former President Donald Trump the winner of Michigan’s Republican primary based on an analysis of initial vote returns from a cross-section of the state. With the victory, Trump is now a perfect five-for-five in presidential contests in which he appeared on the ballot. The AP declared Trump the […]

10 minutes ago

A couple enjoy unseasonably warm weather along the shores of Lake Michigan Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, ...

Associated Press

Notable numbers capture the wild weather hitting much of the US this week

Wild fluctuations in temperatures are being recorded in much of the United States this week. Here are some numbers from it.

31 minutes ago

FILE - President Joe Biden arrives on Marine One in Mountain View, Calif., for a campaign fundraise...

Associated Press

Biden backed off a pledge to abolish the federal death penalty. That’s left an opening for Trump

Biden doesn't discuss the death penalty much today. Former President Donald Trump, meanwhile, consistently vows in campaign speeches to seek execution for drug dealers as part of a national crackdown on crime.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Public health officer in Michigan keeps her job after lengthy legal fight over COVID rules

WEST OLIVE, Mich. (AP) — An embattled public health officer in Michigan will get to keep her job, after a lengthy legal fight with county commissioners over pandemic-era mask mandates concluded Tuesday with the board bowing to the will of a court-ordered arbitrator. The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners voted 11-0 Monday to retain Adeline […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Motive in killing of Baltimore police officer remains a mystery as trial begins

BALTIMORE (AP) — As the trial opened Tuesday for a man accused in the deadly shooting ambush of a Baltimore police officer, the motive in the killing remains shrouded in mystery more than two years later. Officer Keona Holley, who was shot multiple times while sitting in her marked patrol car during an overnight shift, […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Bill to set minimum marriage age to 18 in Washington state heads to governor

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A law to establish 18 as the minimum marriage age in Washington state is headed to the governor’s desk for his signature. State lawmakers in the House and Senate passed House Bill 1455 this session after the measure stalled in the Senate last year and other bills failed to gain traction […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Romney gets 1st likely challenger in ’24 Utah Senate primary