Former President Donald Trump endorsed Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs for U.S. Senate Saturday morning just hours before the Utah Republican Party state convention.

Trump’s highly sought for — and potentially highly influential — endorsement will be big news as 4,000 state party delegates gather Saturday in Salt Lake City to listen to the crowded field of 10 Republican Senate candidates and cast their votes for who they would like to replace Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney.

Trump made the announcement shortly before 7:20 am MDT in a post on his social media company, Truth Social.

“Trent Staggs is 100% MAGA, and is running to fill The Mitt Romney, a Total Loser, Seat as the next Senator from the Great State of Utah! A Highly Successful Entrepreneur, who has served brilliantly as Mayor of Riverton for the past six years, Trent knows how to Create Jobs, Stop Inflation, Grow the Economy, and Secure the Border. As your next Senator, Trent will help us Unleash American Energy, Support our Military/Vets, and Protect our always under siege Second Amendment. Trent Staggs has my Complete and Total Endorsement - He will be a GREAT Senator, and never let you down!”

Staggs has done all he can to carve out a lane as the most Trump-aligned candidate in the GOP competition, which includes convention-only candidates like Staggs and political adviser Carolyn Phippen and signature-gathering candidates like 3rd District Congressman John Curtis, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson and Moxie Pest Control CEO Jason Walton.

Staggs’ has focused his campaign on countless delegate town halls, reaching out personally to delegates and courting, and receiving, the endorsement of some of Trump’s most well-known allies in Congress and conservative media, including former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk.

In a statement Saturday morning, Staggs said, “I am honored to have the endorsement of President Donald J. Trump! The America First agenda will drain the swamp, restore our republic, and once again put We the People in charge of our great country.”

A Trump endorsement could sway the outcome of the Senate race in Utah. For Staggs, whose electoral hopes depend entirely on the support state delegates, it could mean the difference between qualifying for the primary ballot and giving a concession speech.

A source in Utah close to the Trump campaign spoke to the Deseret News before the endorsement was public, saying, “I think the president certainly would be looking for parties that he could participate with in meaningfully fighting for Utah. … I think he has certain priorities and things that would be important to him and that would factor in his decision-making on who he thinks would be good partners in Utah to do that.”

Veteran Utah politico Chuck Warren told the Deseret News in March that he believes a Trump endorsement could be worth 50 percentage-points among a GOP convention crowd. A Noble Predictive Insights survey released on Wednesday found that a Trump endorsement would influence the vote of 72% of conservative Republican voters — which likely compose the vast majority of party delegates who tend to be more ideological and active voters.

But the endorsement could also be a bit of a gamble for Trump. In the same Noble Predictive Insights poll, Staggs only had the support of 5% of Utah’s registered Republicans, compared to 27% for Utah Rep. John Curtis, 11% for Brent Hatch, and 10% for Brad Wilson. Another 41% of registered Republican voters said they weren’t sure.

Staggs was the first candidate to officially announce a Senate bid in Utah. His May campaign launch came four months before Romney said he would not seek reelection. Despite now running for an open seat, Staggs has continued to frame himself in opposition to Romney and “the establishment.”

In a meeting with the Deseret News and KSL editorial board meetings, Staggs staked out an uncompromising “America First” position on border security, Ukraine aid and federal budgets. He said with a Republican trifecta in Congress and the White House, “America First constitutional conservatives” like Sen. Mike Lee and himself, would bring a quick diplomatic close to the war in Ukraine, reinstate Trump-era border policies and initiate an overhaul of the federal government bureaucracy.

Staggs opted not to take advantage of the signature-gathering path to the primary. To advance in the race he must secure at least 40% of delegate support after multiple rounds of voting narrow down the options to just two candidates. If he receives more than 60% of the vote, he will emerge from the convention as the official Republican Party nominee, which means he will be able to tap into party resources and organization during what is sure to be a contentious primary race between Curtis, Wilson and Walton — who have already qualified for the primary ballot — and whoever else advances from the convention process.

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.

Other Republican candidates, besides those already named, include attorney Brent Hatch, certified public accountant Josh Randall, Bookroo founder Chandler Tanner, Brian Jenkins and Jeremy Friedbaum.

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