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

California investigating whether DeSantis involved in flying asylum-seekers from Texas to Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Officials were investigating Tuesday whether Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis was behind a flight that picked up asylum-seekers on the Texas border and flew them — apparently without their knowledge — to California’s capital, even as faith-based groups scrambled to find housing and food for them. About 20 people ranging in age […]

23 hours ago

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, center, poses for a selfie after a town hall style meeting a...

Associated Press

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie set to launch 2024 presidential bid at New Hampshire town hall

NEW YORK (AP) — Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is set to launch his bid for the Republican nomination for president at a town hall in New Hampshire on Tuesday evening. The campaign will be the second for Christie, who lost to Trump in 2016 and went on to become a close on-and-off adviser […]

23 hours ago

This booking photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Michael Tisius. Tisius ...

Associated Press

Missouri man facing execution for killing 2 jailers in failed bid to help inmate escape in 2000

A man who shot and killed two rural Missouri jailers nearly 23 years ago during a failed bid to help an inmate escape is set to be executed Tuesday evening. for killing Leon Egley and Jason Acton at the small Randolph County Jail on June 22, 2000. Tisius’ lawyers have urged the U.S. Supreme Court […]

23 hours ago

FILE - E. Jean Carroll arrives at Manhattan federal court, Tuesday, May 9, 2023, in New York. Donal...

Associated Press

Trump’s lawyers say defamation claim by NY writer must fail because jury agreed he never raped her

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York writer who won a $5 million jury verdict against ex-President Donald Trump can’t win a pending defamation lawsuit against him because the jury agreed with Trump that he never raped her, his lawyers told a judge Monday. The lawyers urged Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to reject columnist E. […]

23 hours ago

Crowd members listen to a speaker during the "Unions Strike Back" rally, Friday, May 26, 2023, near...

Associated Press

Hollywood actors guild votes to authorize strike, as writers strike continues

Actors represented by the Hollywood union SAG-AFTRA voted Monday evening to authorize a strike if they don’t agree on a new contract with major studios, streamers and production companies by June 30. The guild, which represents over 160,000 screen actors, broadcast journalists, announcers, hosts and stunt performers, begins its negotiations with the Alliance of Motion […]

23 hours ago

FILE - Police officers stand outside a Target store as a group of people protest across the street,...

Associated Press

Pride becomes a minefield for big companies, but many continue their support

Many big companies, including Target and Bud Light's parent, are still backing Pride events in June despite the minefield that the monthlong celebration has become for some of them.

23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]



Thank you to Al McCoy for 51 years as voice of the Phoenix Suns

Sanderson Ford wants to share its thanks to Al McCoy for the impact he made in the Valley for more than a half-decade.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

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.

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