More than 4,000 Republican delegates will choose their nominee to replace Sen. Mitt Romney on Saturday.

During multiple rounds of voting, the precinct representatives will hear from 10 U.S. Senate candidates jostling to prove their conservative views on issues like immigration, spending and fealty to the Constitution.

Several Republican hopefuls have constructed campaigns geared toward receiving the endorsement of former President Donald Trump or Utah’s senior senator, Mike Lee, with candidates debating over which of them is best positioned to disrupt the status quo in Washington, D.C.

Utah GOP Senate hopefuls spar over who can best shake up Washington
Sen. Mike Lee interviews candidates for Sen. Mitt Romney’s job

The state GOP nominating convention has historically been characterized by a more ideological electorate. Candidates who might be popular generally with Utah voters, like former Gov. Gary Herbert and Romney, sometimes lose among delegates. Both Herbert and Romney won by large margins in their subsequent primary elections.

The April 27 convention — a feature of Utah’s unique party caucus system — will be followed by a vote-by-mail primary election on June 25 open to all registered Republicans. Candidates who receive more than 40% of delegates’ support on Saturday or have gathered 28,000 certified signatures will appear on the primary ballot.

Here’s a preview of who is running to become Utah’s next junior senator and where they stand on the delegates’ top issues.

Rep. John Curtis is the Republican congressman representing Utah’s 3rd Congressional District, where he has served since 2017. Curtis told the Deseret News his priorities are to ensure energy security, promote local control of public lands and stand up to foreign aggression.

Curtis is seen as a leader among his colleagues on energy policy. He emphasizes fossil fuels, nuclear innovation and market solutions to reduce emissions. The congressman has passed several bills into law during his tenure in Congress, many of them focused on transferring federal lands to the state, helping him rank as one of the most productive lawmakers in the country.

Curtis recently voted in favor of military funding for Israel, U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific and Ukraine. He said lawmakers should take the opportunity to prevent Russia from expanding the conflict elsewhere and to send a strong signal to China.

Curtis has gathered 28,000 certified signatures and will appear on the primary ballot regardless of Saturday’s vote.

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

Brad Wilson is the former speaker of the state House of Representatives. Wilson’s objective is to bring Utah’s best-in-the-nation budgeting practices to Washington, D.C., where he hopes to dive into the weeds on policy and build coalitions to address the country’s spending issues, just like he did in Utah’s Capitol.

During his tenure, Wilson helped pass the largest package of tax cuts in state history, a trigger law banning most abortions, an amendment allowing Utahns to carry a concealed gun without a permit and a statute preventing transgender individuals from participating in female school sports.

Wilson, currently the CEO of real estate company Newtown Development, told the Deseret News lawmakers need to be willing to reform government retirement programs, like Social Security and Medicare, so that they remain intact, albeit in different forms, for future generations.

Wilson has also gathered 28,000 certified signatures and will appear on the primary ballot.

Former House speaker Brad Wilson wants to ‘make Washington more like Utah’

Jason Walton is the CEO of Moxie Pest Control. He told the Deseret News his position as an independently wealthy businessperson frees him to take “drastic measures” to repair a “fractured” Constitution, citing Trump as an example of what that looks like.

Walton said the first move on his Senate agenda would be to replace Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell with Lee. He would also push to pass Lee’s REINS Act, which would require Congress to approve rules passed by executive agencies that have more than a $100 million impact on the economy.

Walton said “getting things done” in divided government can often mean just voting “no.” But beyond tanking spending bills, he said lawmakers need to create a plan to reform the welfare programs driving national debt by privatizing them “over time” without breaking commitments to those who have already invested significantly in the system.

Like Curtis and Wilson, Walton has gathered 28,000 certified signatures and will appear on the primary ballot.

How businessman Jason Walton’s loss launched him on a political mission

Trent Staggs is the mayor of Riverton. He has done everything he can to carve out a lane as the most Trump-aligned candidate, receiving the endorsement of Trump surrogates like Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., and Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake.

Staggs said with a Republican majority in Congress and Trump in the White House, “America First constitutional conservatives” will bring a speedy diplomatic resolution to the Ukraine war and crack down on illegal immigration. Staggs supports banning welfare benefits to migrants who enter the country illegally, implementing E-verify nationally and returning to Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Staggs said a return to proper process is essential for Congress to regain fiscal sanity. He said he would do all he could to stop Congress from passing last-minute omnibus bills. He also said responsible lawmakers have no choice but to reform entitlement programs while leaving benefits untouched for those who have already paid into the system.

Staggs chose to not gather any signatures. He will advance to the primary only if he receives at least 40% of delegates’ votes after the field is narrowed down to two candidates through multiple rounds of voting at the convention.

Trent Staggs says U.S. needs ‘America First’ Republicans in Congress and White House to reverse crisis

Carolyn Phippen is the former regional director and government affairs adviser to Lee. Phippen believes the United States doesn’t have the money to continue with unchecked immigration or to keep signing checks to support allies in foreign conflicts, she told the Deseret News.

Phippen said the $100 billion in financial and military aid delivered to Ukraine has left the U.S. less prepared to defend itself and doesn’t serve American interests. Phippen also said Congress must finish a border wall and pass legislation requiring migrants seeking asylum to wait out their immigration proceedings on the other side of the border.

Phippen said Social Security must be privatized for those beginning the program after the next decade and that government insurance programs like Medicare also need an overhaul.

Phippen is also depending on a first- or second-place finish at the convention to advance to the primary.

'Our country is broke,' says Carolyn Phippen running to replace Romney

Brent Hatch is a lawyer and the son of the late Orrin Hatch, who was Utah’s longest-serving U.S. senator. Cutting deficit spending and reducing the country’s soaring debt is his top priority, Hatch told the Deseret News.

Members of Congress need to view annual spending decisions as an “emergency proceeding,” striking out unnecessary pet projects and quickly moving to return the budget to pre-pandemic levels, Hatch said. Then, if lawmakers are unwilling to “raise taxes or cut entitlements,” he said they should work to decrease government regulations to increase productivity and tax revenue.

Hatch opted to gather signatures in addition to trying his luck at the convention. But with the signature-certification deadline on Friday, Hatch still did not have enough signatures certified as of Thursday afternoon.

Brent Hatch is following in his dad’s footsteps. Are Utah voters interested?

Josh Randall is a certified public accountant who works as an audit manager for the Utah Trust Lands Administration. His campaign has focused on “Faith, family and fiscal discipline.”

Chandler Tanner is the founder of Bookroo. As a rural Utah native, he says the federal government’s most pressing task should be returning power to local government.


Jeremy Friedbaum is a former piano tuner. He previously ran for U.S. Senate as a Republican in multiple elections and for Utah’s 3rd Congressional seat as an independent.

Brian Jenkins is an Abraham Lincoln impersonator who has also run for multiple congressional elections in Utah.

The GOP nominee who emerges from the primary will face off against the nominees from other registered political parties in the Nov. 5 general election.

The Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate in Utah include mountaineer Caroline Gleich, Archie Williams III and Laird Hamblin.

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