Trump tweets congrats to Curtis, Herrod won’t concede 3rd District primary

Posted at 4:33 PM, Aug 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 19:29:54-04

PROVO, Utah -- The day after he declared victory in the Republican primary for Third Congressional District, Provo Mayor John Curtis began focusing on winning the general election.

Curtis was the projected winner on Tuesday night, taking 42% of the vote to Chris Herrod's 30%. Tanner Ainge, who won only 27% of the vote, conceded the race to Curtis.

More final ballot numbers are not expected until Friday, and until those numbers come in, Herrod said he would not concede. There are about 30,000 uncounted ballots.

"When we get closer, more votes are counted, I'll be the first to congratulate John," Herrod told FOX 13 early Wednesday.

But others are viewing Curtis as the winner, including President Trump, who offered congratulations via Twitter:

Asked what he thought of that, Curtis told FOX 13:  "Not much."

"I suspect, he and I have not met, he doesn't know who I am, what I stand for," Curtis said. "We'll deal with that when I get back to Washington."

Curtis' Democratic challenger, Dr. Kathie Allen, laughed when asked about the tweet.

"I'm glad he got it," she said. "I wouldn't want it right now."

While the Republican candidates waged a nasty battle with negative campaign ads and more than a million dollars in PAC spending, Allen sat back and fundraised. She has a sizable campaign war chest headed into the November election.

"The support I have around the country and here in Utah will continue to bolster our efforts," she said Wednesday.

The special election to replace Jason Chaffetz (who quit shortly after re-election) has drawn national attention. Utah's 3rd Congressional District is one of the most conservative in America and Curtis was cast as the moderate Republican in the race.

"It's not about labels," Curtis said.

Provo Mayor John Curtis, in an interview with FOX 13's Ben Winslow. (Image by Mike Rank, FOX 13 News)

Herrod was the pick of GOP delegates, but Utah Republican Party Chairman Rob Anderson said he did not view it as a repudiation of the caucus-convention system.

"I don't think it is," Anderson told FOX 13 on Tuesday night. "I think the party's trending toward a more moderate culture."

Anderson pointed to his own election as party chair, where he faced more conservative candidates.

Besides Allen, Curtis will still face a crowded field including United Utah Party candidate Jim Bennett (who sued the state to get on the ballot), Libertarian Joe Buchman and others.

In their own statements and public remarks on Wednesday, the candidates said they wanted to focus on issues important to voters. Curtis and Allen both told FOX 13 they viewed health care one of the top issues.

Curtis said he'd also heard from voters frustrated with D.C. polarization.

"They're tired of not getting things done. They're tired of the bickering, the pettiness," he said. "They want things done."