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Tanner Ainge talks Gordon Hayward on national sports talk show

FILE - Tanner Ainge, GOP candidate in 3rd District, is interviewed in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 20, 2017.
FILE - Tanner Ainge, GOP candidate in 3rd District, is interviewed in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 20, 2017.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Congressional candidate Tanner Ainge said on a nationally syndicated sports talk show Friday he's getting plenty of attention for his tweet to the Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward about a new tax on millionaires in Massachusetts.

"There's a lot of people who follow sports, and it's fun," Ainge told Ross Tucker, a fill-in host on "The Dan Patrick Show," about his Twitter post Thursday aimed at getting Hayward not to leave the Jazz for the Boston Celtics.

Ainge's father, former BYU basketball star Danny Ainge, is the general manager of the Boston team vying for Hayward, who becomes a free agent Saturday. Tanner Ainge's brother, Austin, is the Celtics' director of player personnel.

Tanner Ainge had been reluctant to talk about the impact of the Hayward situation on his campaign to replace now-former Rep. Jason Chaffetz in Utah's 3rd District. Chaffetz resigned Friday morning and starts as a Fox News contributor Saturday.

Ainge faces former state lawmaker Chris Herrod and Provo Mayor John Curtis in a Republican primary Aug. 15. The winner will face Democrat Kathie Allen and several minor party candidates in November's special election.

The candidate told the Deseret News after launching his campaign he had "no idea" if voters would hold it against him if Hayward signs with the Celtics.

"Ultimately, Gordon is going to make the decision. I hope he stays," Ainge said then.

Earlier this week, Ainge's father was the main host for the candidate's first campaign fundraiser.

But his tweet Thursday included a link to a news story, "Massachusetts Legislature passes 'millionaire's tax' constitutional amendment," and the message to Hayward that it was "something to consider over the next few days."

He included the Utah Jazz hashtag #takenote.

"There's no better to place to be" than Utah, Ainge said on "The Dan Patrick Show," citing the state's natural beauty. "On top of that, I highlighted the tax issues. We've got lower taxes than he would have in Massachusetts."

In addition, Ainge said, Hayward is an aspiring technical engineer and would thrive in the state's Silicon Slopes high-tech corridor connecting Salt Lake and Utah counties.

"I don't know why he would want to leave," Ainge said.

Recalling the days of the Jazz's most famous players, John Stockton and Karl Malone, he said, "most importantly, people in Utah want their players to stay."

While Stockton and Malone are "chiseled on the mountains here," Ainge said, Hayward has a chance to be "'the guy' in a market that's thriving" and one that doesn't have a Major League Baseball, NFL or NHL team.

What Ainge didn't do on the show was say who his favorite NBA team is.

"You cheer for people," he said. "I always want my dad and my brother to be successful."

Ainge did try to steer the conversation back toward his campaign.

"Look, the direction of our country is a serious matter," he said. "It's more important than the fun conversation we're having about Hayward."