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John Curtis sews up 3rd District GOP victory; Herrod concedes

PROVO — Additional results released Friday in the 3rd Congressional District GOP primary election nailed down a victory for Provo Mayor John Curtis, prompting the runner-up in the three-way race to concede.

Curtis held his double-digit lead over former state lawmaker Chris Herrod and Alpine businessman Tanner Ainge, making him the Republican Party's nominee in the November special election.

Herrod reached Curtis on vacation Friday to concede shortly after Utah County reported another 18,000 mail-in votes. Curtis now has 43 percent, Herrod 32 percent and Ainge 24 percent overall, with some ballots still outstanding.

"I believe it's John's time for the limelight," Herrod said.

Curtis claimed victory on Tuesday after the Associated Press called the race for him. But Herrod wouldn't give up until more ballots were counted. Ainge conceded shortly after early results came in that night.

Herrod said he didn't mean any disrespect, but as "some kind of fighter and still with hope that you have a prayer" he wanted to wait for a larger number of Utah County votes to come in.

Curtis said he's grateful and humbled by Republican voters' support. His attention is now on the general election.

"Leading up to Nov. 7, our campaign will focus on uniting not only Republicans in the district but all residents behind our message," he said in a statement. "The message is the same as it was for our pioneer ancestors: using principles of industry, thrift, hard work and personal responsibility, we can tackle all of our country's difficult problems and get things done."

Herrod didn't directly endorse Curtis but said he believes in the GOP platform.

"I have not not voted for a Republican in decades. I assume that's where I'll be," he said.

Curtis and Ainge gathered signatures to get on the primary ballot, while GOP delegates chose Herrod at a nominating convention. Curtis participated in the convention, while Ainge bypassed it all together. Herrod said he believes he and Ainge split the conservative vote in the three-way race.

Herrod said the outcome was a "heavy blow" to Utah's caucus-convention system for choosing candidates that he passionately supports.

"That's probably what makes the loss a little more bitter," he said. "I don't direct it at John. He ran under the system as is."

The Count My Vote group is considering reviving its initiative petition asking voters to do away with the caucus-convention system in favor of direct primary elections.

A member of the GOP central committee, the former state lawmaker and U.S. Senate candidate says it's too soon to think about running for office again.

"My wife would kill me if I even ponder that question," Herrod said, though he added "never say never."

Gov. Gary Herbert called the special election to replace Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who resigned in June.

Curtis will be on the November ballot along with Democrat Kathie Allen, a Cottonwood Heights physician; United Utah Party candidate Jim Bennett, son of the late Utah Sen. Bob Bennett; Libertarian Joe Buchman; Independent American Party candidate Jason Christensen; unaffiliated candidate Sean Whalen; and write-in candidates Brendan Phillips and Russell Roesler.