Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird Jr. ended his U.S. Senate campaign Wednesday, filing instead to run for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District.
Bird, who goes by “JR,” announced his bid for the Senate seat held by outgoing Sen. Mitt Romney in mid-September. But following reports that 3rd District congressman John Curtis, was reconsidering swapping a House campaign for a Senate one, Bird told the Deseret News he was changing direction.
The field of Republican candidates hoping to replace Romney include Curtis, who made his intentions official on Wednesday, as well as former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, and the son of late Sen. Orrin Hatch, Brent Hatch, among other 2024 hopefuls.
Even as Curtis faced calls to pursue a place in Congress’ upper chamber in lieu of reelection to the House, Bird said he received an “overwhelming voice of encouragement from family, friends, neighbors and constituents in CD3 for us to switch and move to his seat.”
Donors, elected officials and trusted friends saw him as “a good fit” for the district, Bird said, because of decades spent becoming familiar with the district’s people and issues — particularly the shifting energy industry, water usage and public land management — as a farmer, business owner and small town mayor.
“Those same things that we brought to the table as a Senate candidate are the same things that will make us successful and that will benefit those that we serve in CD3,” Bird said in an interview with the Deseret News. “So there’s no change in focus.”
Prior to his election in 2017, Bird founded and served as president of Paragon Oilfield Products, which provides pipes and hoses for industrial and agricultural use. A life-long resident of Roosevelt, a town of 7,000 located at the center of the Uinta Basin, Bird and his wife, Brindy, raised their four children on a combined total of 150 acres where they have cattle and alfalfa.
Bird says his rural background, as well as his expertise in the oil and gas industry, combined with nearly 15 years of service between the Central Utah Water Board and Roosevelt City Council, have prepared him to advance the conservative energy agenda championed by Curtis.
“Some of the things that I think John Curtis and I align on is the energy policy,” he said. “That’s something that’s important for someone in our district to understand.”
Bird said a pattern he wants translate from the city he leads to Washington D.C., is a long-term, “40, 50, 60 year energy plan” that outlines a national vision for an energy transition that “utilizes all forms of energy to be energy independent and dominant.”
Such legislative action would minimize the whiplash between presidential administrations, Bird said, and would incorporate the livelihoods of many of his constituents, who work in coal, or oil and gas, into a resilient energy future.
In filing for the U.S. House, Bird joins former Utah County Republican Party Chair Stewart Peay in vying for the Utah GOP nomination. State Sen. Mike Kennedy and former 3rd District candidate Chris Herrod are also expected to enter the race in coming days.
Bird considers himself a conservative, but “one that wants to work with people” — even those he disagrees with.
“We can find common ground,” Bird said. “As a mayor, you represent the whole town, not just the Republicans or the Democrats. And so you really have to find ways to work together and you have to find ways to satisfy your constituents on both sides of the aisle.”
As mayor, Bird has earned a reputation for increasing government transparency, by making public meetings more accessible to the public, and for being transparent about limiting government — fulfilling his campaign promises of delegating to committees and enacting term limits within a year.
Bird said his campaign will be concentrated on winning over Republican delegates to win via the party convention path in April. But he will not close the door on the option of signature gathering to qualify for the June Republican Primary, he said.
Bird will transfer over $1 million of his own funds from his brief Senate bid, which focused on his rural background and securing the southern border, to his House campaign.
“I want to be a uniter, not a divider. I want to be a builder — a problem solver, not a problem creator,” Bird said. “And I think we have too many in politics that utilize those issues and problems as political capital versus really trying to find solutions.”