Freedom Front Executive Director Carolyn Phippen announced her intention to run for Sen. Mitt Romney’s U.S. Senate seat.
Phippen, a Utah political consultant and communications professional, launched her campaign at Draper Historic Park Wednesday afternoon.
She joins several other 2024 Republican primary candidates, including Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson and Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird Jr., all vying to become Utah’s junior senator in next November’s general election.
Who is Carolyn Phippen and why is she running for U.S. Senate?
“I think Utah is looking for a strong conservative leader in the U.S. Senate,” Phippen told the Deseret News in an interview on Tuesday. “I think there’s a recognition that a lot of policies that have come out of Washington in the last number of years have created some unsustainable problems.”
As a mother of five boys and an experienced communicator, Phippen says she is running to demonstrate how principled conservatism can put the country on the right track when it transcends partisan name-calling and abides by the time-tested principles of the U.S. Constitution.
“If we want new solutions and new ideas and a fresh look at things, then we probably ought to look for a new type of politician,” she said.
Phippen has made a name for herself in recent years working with some of the state’s most prominent conservatives. From 2018-2021, she served as regional director and government affairs adviser to Sen. Mike Lee and prior to that she worked as the chief of communications for former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes.
These stints in government were followed by an unsuccessful bid for public office in 2022, when Phippen ran in the Republican primary for District 46 in the Utah House of Representatives, which covers portions of Draper where she lives. She lost the primary to Rep. Jeff Stenquist.
Since moving to Utah 35 years ago to study political science at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, Phippen has served in a variety of organizations.
Phippen served as a young missionary in Czechoslovakia for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and more recently has served as a member of numerous boards and nonprofit organizations focused on helping underprivileged youth in Utah.
She is currently the executive director of Freedom Front of Utah, a public advocacy organization founded by a coalition of Utah entrepreneurs to promote the values of free markets and individual liberty.
Phippen said she never envisioned herself running for U.S. Senate, until multiple factors led her to believe Romney’s decision to not run for reelection created a demand for someone just like her.
“A lot of the things that I’ve done in the past have been about looking for what I felt like I could add to the community and how I could be of service to those around me in the community,” she said. “I have a different perspective. I have different experience. And I think that uniquely situates me to represent Utah in a new way and to represent Utah in a way that will lead us toward the future.”
What sets Carolyn Phippen apart from other U.S. Senate candidates in Utah?
Phippen’s campaign announcement highlighted how motherhood has given her a unique ability to discern solutions that require incremental reform and bipartisan buy-in “without compromising on our principles.”
“I think that my experience as a mother has allowed me to see things very broadly from the perspective of others,” Phippen said.
However, as someone who grew up in New York state defending her conservative worldview to a diverse group of friends, Phippen says healthy disagreement is necessary.
“I see myself as being someone who can pull from multiple candidates because my lane, while I am very conservative, a number of the moderate Republicans I’m talking to, they’re willing to jump on board with me because of the way that I approach issues and look for truly principle-based solutions,” Phippen said.
What issues matter most to Carolyn Phippen?
Phippen said the Republican Party holds the principles needed to address border security, inflation and a rapidly growing national debt fueled by irresponsible spending — an issue Phippen said would be her priority as a senator.
“We have got to find a solution to our spending problem,” she said. “For me, that is No. 1 because if we don’t get our spending under control, it doesn’t matter what else we do because all the rest of it will be gone anyway.”
Phippens said she will support whoever becomes the Republican Party’s nominee for president in 2024, but added that Senate hopefuls like herself have a unique responsibility to defend the principles that made America great even as the country descends into the partisan strife that is sure to dominate the next election cycle.
“If we’re moving off the Constitution in order to try to solve a problem, there are unintended consequences that take us to a pretty radical place,” she said. “If our goals are for a better Utah, a better United States of America, we’re able to do that if our principles align with the principles that really have given us the freest and most prosperous nation this world has ever known.”