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Curtis wins GOP primary in race to replace Sen. Mitt Romney

Posted at 8:12 PM, Jun 25, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — After a hotly-contested spring campaign, Rep. John Curtis defeated a stacked GOP Senate primary Tuesday to move a step closer to changing where he goes to work at the U.S. Capitol.

Primary results as of 8:15 p.m. had Curtis leading other candidates, including Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump over the weekend.

Emily Tencer reports from Trent Staggs' camp below after Curtis projected winner:

Staggs Update

The longtime representative of Utah's 3rd Congressional District since 2017, Curtis will now head to November's general election in the race to replace Sen. Mitt Romney who announced last fall that he would not seek reelection.

A crowd of Curtis supporters gathered at a park in Provo erupted in cheers as the race call came in. The congressman hugged his children and grandchildren, many covered head to toe in “John Curtis for U.S. Senate” stickers, between congratulatory phone calls from U.S. Sen. Mike Lee and other Utah officials.

“Tonight is a night to celebrate, but tomorrow we go back to work,” Curtis told the crowd. “Thank you for the best campaign in the history of the world.”

Curtis will face off in November against Democratic nominee Caroline Gleich in a state that has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1970.

Curtis, 64, started his political career as a county level Democratic Party official before running for Provo mayor as a Republican. He has been compared to Romney for pushing back against hard-liners in his party, particularly on climate change.

"John Curtis is a man of honor and integrity who cares deeply about our fellow citizens and the future of our country. We need more leaders like him. Utahns will be very fortunate to have him represent our state in the Senate next year. Congratulations," Romney said in a statement.

Brad Wilson, the former Utah House Speaker and one of Curtis' opponents, issued a statement congratulating Curtis.

"I look forward to supporting our Republican nominee as we work together to protect the Utah Way and defend our values for generations to come," his statement read in part.

Days after the election, on Thursday, Trent Staggs also issued a statement on social media, expressing his gratitude to supporters and saying he was "uncertain what God has in store" for his family next.

"Unfortunately the outcome of this election didn’t go the way we had hoped," his statement reads in part. "It is concerning to me the outsized influence money plays in politics generally, and what we witnessed here in Utah with this election. We were outspent by well over $10 million, with an additional $2 million spent attacking me directly with all manner of falsehoods and dishonesty. We need to reform this system."