Rep. John Curtis won the Republican primary in the race to replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, according to The Associated Press.

“Figuring out how to thank you is just very difficult. And you can’t say thank you without first of all saying thank you to my family,” Curtis said to his family and supporters on Tuesday night. “I have six kids and 17 grandkids. And if you want to know why in the end I did this, it’s the 17 grandkids.”

With 77% of the votes counted, the 3rd District congressman received 51.7% of votes, while Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs received 28.6%, former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson received 13.6% and Moxie Pest Control CEO Jason Walton received 6.1%.

The initial vote totals showing Curtis ahead appeared on a large TV screen, and were met by scattered cheers by the more than 100 Curtis supporters gathered under a pavilion at the candidate’s election night watch party at Riverview Park in north Provo.

On the small stage, Curtis shared his reason for running and why he says his message resonated with Utahns.

“The vision is this, that we can do things better in Washington. We can agree. We can find solutions. We can be civil,” Curtis said. “Those of you who worry about this country, just know that’s going to be the message tomorrow, from the corner of this state to the corner of this state, that we must unify as a country and if we unify we can beat any foe, solve any problem.”

Curtis topped 50% in the crowded four-way race in most of the 18 of 29 counties that had reported as of 9 p.m. on Tuesday. Curtis had a strong showing in Utah’s more heavily populated counties, coming away with more than 56% in Salt Lake County, nearly 53% in Davis County and nearly 57% in Utah County, which he represented in the U.S. House for the last 7½ years and where he served as mayor of Provo for the eight years before that.

John Curtis fist-bumps Chris Nichols, of Orem, as he visits with Kitty Dunn, of Bigham City, during a watch party for Curtis’ campaign held at Riverview Park in Provo on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. | Isaac Hale, Deseret News

The only county where Curtis did not enjoy a majority or plurality of the votes after the votes closed on Tuesday was in Washington County, according to the preliminary results, where Staggs led the congressman 40.1%-39.8%. Wilson hovered between 10%-20% in most counties, with slightly better numbers in Davis County, which he previously represented in the state legislature. Walton did not exceed 8% of the vote in any county in the initial ballot drop.

“In a four way race, a majority is an unusual thing,” Curtis told reporters. “So it does make a pretty bold statement that even with four in there that I was able to get above 50, if it holds, we’ll have to see if it does. For me, personally, that’s a very significant thing.”

Walton called Curtis after the first round of results rolled in to concede the race. Wilson posted a statement soon after saying he looked “forward to supporting our Republican nominee as we work together to protect the Utah Way and defend our values for generations to come.” Staggs had not issued a statement as of 9:30pm on Tuesday.

Sen. Mitt Romney congratulated Curtis on Tuesday in a post on social media.

“John Curtis is a man of honor and integrity who cares deeply about our fellow citizens and the future of our country,” he wrote. “We need more leaders like him. Utahns will be very fortunate to have him represent our state in the Senate next year. Congratulations @CurtisUT!”

Sen. Mike Lee also congratulated Curtis, saying, “John Curtis has faithfully served the people of Utah in the House of Representatives for years, and I will be honored to work with him to defend freedom and strengthen America when he becomes our next Senator.

“He also ensures that Utah has the strongest sock game in the Senate,” Lee said.

Trent Staggs, candidate for U.S. Senate, greets attendees before any results are released at the Salt Lake County GOP primary election watch party at Utah Trucking Association in West Valley City on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

Utah’s crowded Republican Senate race

The contest to succeed Sen. Mitt Romney as Utah’s junior senator was the Beehive State’s first competitive Republican primary for an open U.S. Senate seat in 30 years, one of the state’s most crowded Senate races ever and its most expensive in recent memory.

Pitting legislative newcomers against veteran lawmakers, Utah’s Senate GOP primary was defined by big money, from national special interests as well as candidates’ pockets; big promises, on immigration and spending; and one big endorsement, from former President Donald Trump.

Curtis entered the race late after first announcing he would not forgo reelection to the House for a Senate bid. When his decision was met with a flood of voices telling him to reconsider, Curtis took a second look. By the time the candidate filing period rolled around in early January, Curtis had thrown his hat in the ring, along with a total of 10 other candidates.

“That vacillation was very important to me,” Curtis told the Deseret News after the race was called. “Ever since then, I’ve been just absolutely sure that this was the right thing for me to do.”

Rep. John Curtis wants to heal a climate of distrust in the Senate

The overflowing field of 2024 hopefuls — which also featured political consultant Carolyn Phippen and son of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, Brent Hatch — was reduced to just four candidates — Staggs, Curtis, Wilson and Walton — following the state Republican Party nominating convention in April.

Thousands of GOP precinct representatives chose Staggs to be the party-backed candidate at the April 27 convention. That morning, Staggs had received the endorsement of Donald Trump. The Riverton mayor won state delegates’ support in a landslide, securing 70% in the final round of voting, while Curtis came in second with 30% of the vote.

As a convention-only candidate, Staggs’ win secured him a spot on the primary ballot while Curtis, Wilson and Walton each qualified for the primary by gathering 28,000 signatures certified by the state.

“What’s clear is John Curtis found the message that resonated with voters in the state of Utah to a larger percentage than most thought he would,” Jason Perry, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, told the Deseret News. “It is in clear contrast to how he did with the delegates at the convention. That’s going to be one of the messages of his victory that he will talk about and the political insiders will talk about as well is ‘Where are Utah voters?’ And they have demonstrated that they are overwhelmingly more moderate.”

Everything you need to know about Utah’s Senate race

Curtis’ race to lose

From the time first-quarter filings were released in April, Curtis already held a sizable lead in terms of fundraising and polling. In the first three months of 2024, he received nearly $1.4 million in campaign contributions, while his opponents raised between $200,000-250,000, not including the more than $2.5 million that Wilson and Walton both loaned their campaigns.

The months leading up to the primary saw Curtis continue his money advantage even as pro-Curtis political action committees dropped over $2 million in opposition spending against Staggs.

A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll conducted in January found a majority, 52%, of GOP primary voters undecided. But at that early stage in the race, Curtis already counted on 18% of the vote, more than any of his opponents. Another Deseret News poll conducted in early June found Curtis ahead of Staggs 34% to 16%, with 33% of voters saying they were unsure. Wilson and Walton trailed with 12% and 4%, respectively.

A Noble Predictive Insights poll released Monday found Curtis with a 20-percentage-point lead among likely Republican primary voters in Utah, with 48% saying they lean toward Curtis and 28% for Staggs. Wilson netted 9% and Walton came away with 6%, according to the poll.

Pro-Curtis PACs drops $2 million against Staggs during final 2 weeks of primary

What did Utah GOP Senate candidates run on?

As with Republican politicians and voters across the country, Utah’s GOP Senate candidates focused heavily on immigration policy, the rising cost of living and federal spending.

Curtis sought to differentiate himself from the rest of the pack by pointing to his congressional track record of shifting the conservative conversation around energy policy, transferring federal lands to Utah, taking a strong position on Chinese aggression and pushing back on budget recommendations from both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Curtis said his ability to negotiate with others to achieve conservative wins, as well as his reputation as one of Congress’ most productive and accessible lawmakers, would make him an asset for Utah and would help rebuild trust in the institution he aimed to return to.

We sat down with 7 Republican voters to talk about their choice to replace Mitt Romney. Here’s what they said
How immigration impacts Herriman and the Republican Senate primary in Utah

In contrast to Curtis’ emphasis on consensus building, Staggs spent his primary campaign staking out an uncompromising position on Ukraine aid and budget fights, saying a pro-Trump Republican majority is needed in both Congress and the White House to save the country. Staggs was the first candidate to officially declare his Senate intentions back in May 2023, framing his candidacy in opposition to Romney and “establishment” Republicans.

Wilson ran as a legislative leader with the will and know-how to bring Utah’s fiscal integrity to the dysfunction of Washington, D.C. He highlighted his role in historic tax cuts, budget reform and water policy that he says put Utah on a path to long term economic success. Walton, on the other hand, claimed his business background freed him to make radical changes that career politicians fear. He called for a restoration of traditional constitutional checks and balances.

During their first and only televised debate, Curtis’ opponents centered their attacks on the perceived front runner. Staggs used his final moments of the debate to accuse Curtis of benefiting from his position through pandemic-era investments. Curtis called the attack a “cheap shot” and said he had sold off all of his stocks. Curtis later explained the stock purchases in question were made by a private financial adviser.

GOP Senate candidates come after Curtis in debate
The day after: Rep. Curtis responds to Staggs stock accusation from Senate debate

Who is John Curtis?

Curtis entered Utah’s congressional delegation in 2017, winning a special election to replace former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. During his time in Congress, Curtis has passed 20 bills into law, making him one of the most productive lawmakers in the country.

One of the most impactful of these was the Emery County Public Land Management Act, which established the San Rafael Swell Recreation Area and Jurassic National Monument, expanded Goblin Valley State Park and secured 100,000 acres of school trust land in Utah. Through various deals, Curtis has helped transfer at least 9,000 square acres of federal lands over to the state, his campaign said.

Curtis has also spearheaded efforts to help his Republican colleagues have a seat at the table in environmental discussions by forming the Conservative Climate Caucus in 2021, which has quickly grown to be one of the largest groups in the House.


The lawmaker has led Republican delegations to the United Nations climate conference, championed nuclear energy innovation and hosted multiple climate summits in the state.

“I’ve done more to change the false narrative that fossil fuels are bad and they need to be eradicated than anybody I know,” Curtis told the Deseret News editorial board in April.

Curtis said his congressional seniority will carry over to the Senate where he hopes to continue his advocacy for affordable, reliable and clean energy policy, a subject Curtis says he is recognized as an expert on among Washington, D.C., colleagues.

As the Republican Party nominee for U.S. Senate, Curtis will advance to the General Election on Nov. 5 where he will face off against the Democratic nominee, Caroline Gleich.

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