Former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson and Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs said Tuesday that their Senate campaign strategies will remain unchanged as Rep. John Curtis jumps in.

The two Republican candidates formalized their bids for Sen. Mitt Romney’s soon-to-be vacant seat on Tuesday in the board room at Utah’s Capitol Building, hours before news of Curtis’ run became official. Staggs was joined by his wife and two children while Wilson was joined by family, paid staff and volunteers toting signs and matching shirts.

Curtis, who has served in the U.S. House since his 2017 election to represent Utah’s 3rd District, said Tuesday he would join the growing field of Senate hopefuls. He is expected to file paperwork with the state Wednesday morning.

The Republican lawmaker, known for spearheading a conservative approach to climate policy, said in November he was reconsidering whether he would switch a House campaign for a Senate one in 2024 after he had publicly decided not to a month earlier.

Rep. John Curtis is running to replace Mitt Romney in the Senate

In addition to Curtis, Wilson and Staggs, several other candidates, including Carolyn Phippen, the executive director of Freedom Front, and Brent Orrin Hatch, the son of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, have submitted paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to fundraise for Utah’s Senate race.

Wilson and Staggs have already staked out distinct lanes since making their congressional ambitions public in the spring. Responding to questions before news broke about Curtis’ decision, both said their messages won’t be affected if Curtis enters the race.

“Our race is going to be the same regardless of who jumps in this,” Wilson told the Deseret News. “This is about who is going to be the conservative fighter back in D.C., representing Utah’s values of strong families and small government and low taxes.”

Wilson spoke about his role as state speaker for five years, where he says his track record includes cutting taxes, restricting abortion and maintaining a good business environment in Utah.

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs files to run for the U.S. Senate at the Capitol in Salt Lake City, on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

As one of the few to enter the race prior to Romney’s announcement that he would not be seeking reelection, Staggs has framed himself as the anti-establishment candidate in opposition to Romney, as well as Wilson and possibly Curtis.

“It doesn’t change anything,” Staggs told the Deseret News of Curtis potentially entering the race. “We were the only ones that had the courage to take on Mitt Romney and the establishment and that doesn’t change.”

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs announces run for Mitt Romney’s Senate seat
Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson forms committee to explore run for Romney’s Senate seat

During his six years as mayor of Riverton, and four years as a member of the city council, Staggs said he improved services while lowering taxes, rejected mask mandates and opposed the influence of “woke” ideas in schools and investing.

“I believe I’m the only America first, true conservative candidate in this race,” he said.

Staggs has received endorsements from Arizona senatorial candidate Kari Lake, former Trump administration official Kash Patel and the organization Turning Point USA. Staggs said he was cut from the “same cloth as (Sen.) Mike Lee,” calling himself a “constitutional conservative” who understands “the proper role of government.”

Amid stalled spending negotiations in Congress that have seen Republicans unable to unite on what conservative policy wins look like, Staggs said as senator he would not compromise with Democrats like other Republican senators have.

“That’s another point of differentiation between me and any other major candidate in this race,” Staggs said, “is that I’m not part of the establishment, that I’m going to stand up, because the status quo hasn’t worked.”

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Wilson, who, like Staggs, had to balance a budget each year during his political career, said the same legislative constraints must be brought to Washington, D.C., to “make it look a lot more like Utah.”

“When I get back to Washington, one of the things I plan to do is make sure that kind of reckless spending stops,” Wilson said.

Wilson has received the endorsement of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox as well as a number of Utah lawmakers.

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This story has been updated.

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