State delegates chose Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs as the state Republican Party convention nominee to replace Sen. Mitt Romney after he was endorsed by former President Donald Trump on Saturday.

Staggs won the crowded convention competition for Utah’s junior U.S. Senate seat with 69.7% of the vote after delivering a series of fiery speeches to persuade state GOP delegates he was the figure most likely to disrupt the Washington, D.C., establishment and support Trump’s America First policy agenda.

3rd District congressman John Curtis finished in second with 30.3% of the vote. The final vote count was not completed until just before midnight on Saturday after more than 12 hours of party proceedings.

Staggs, one of a handful of convention-only candidates, will now advance to the June 25 primary election where he will face off against those who qualified by gathering 28,000 certified signatures. Signature-gathering candidates include Curtis, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson and Moxie Pest Control CEO Jason Walton.

Staggs had a strong start, receiving 42.6% of support from the more than 3,500 delegates present in the first round of voting. Curtis came in second, trailing with 21.7% of the vote. Political adviser Carolyn Phippen, also a convention-only candidate, received 13% in the first round.

As candidates dropped out or were eliminated, the support of delegates, who tend to be a more ideologically active electorate, consolidated around Staggs.

Former President Donald Trump shook up the U.S. Senate race just hours before the convention when he put his thumb on the scale for Staggs in a last-minute endorsement. Several Republican hopefuls had constructed campaigns geared toward receiving the endorsement of Trump or Utah’s senior senator, Mike Lee, with candidates debating over which of them was best positioned to overhaul the status quo in Washington, D.C.

“What an honor to get a phone call this morning at 6:30 from President Trump telling me he has endorsed me totally and unconditionally,” Staggs shouted to the delegates during his first-round remarks.

Since becoming the first candidate to officially announce his intentions to run against Romney in May 2023, Staggs has done everything he can to carve out a lane as the most Trump-aligned candidate, receiving the endorsement of Trump surrogates like former Republican presidential nominee Vivek Ramaswamy, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., and Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake.

“Let’s replace Joe Biden’s favorite Republican with Donald Trump’s favorite Republican in Utah,” Staggs said during his last opportunity to address the audience, gathered at the Salt Palace convention center in downtown Salt Lake City.

Delegates, who were elected during Super Tuesday party caucus meetings, clapped, cheered and stood up for Staggs significantly more than any other candidate. Staggs criticized fellow campaigns for disbursing negative attack ads against him and committed to follow through with his campaign promises.

Staggs committed to pass a balanced budget amendment, never vote ‘yes’ on an omnibus spending package, vote to defund the U.N. and eliminate the Department of Education.

“A small town mayor had enough courage to say enough is enough,” Staggs said, railing on Ukraine foreign aid, liberal Supreme Court justices and a massive national debt.

Staggs’ voice strained as he shared a populist message, promising to bring Utahns’ voice to the halls of the nation’s Capitol.

“Because of us everyday Americans we will drain the swamp. Because of us everyday Americans we will turn the Washington, D.C., establishment obsolete,” Staggs said. “Let’s send a message to the D.C. establishment that we the people, everyday Americans, are the rightful rulers of America and by electing me today we’re going to send a warrior to D.C. that will tear them down and return to a government by, for and of the people.”

Curtis maintained a distant second place throughout the multiple rounds of voting. He emphasized the importance of a measurable return on investment over rowdy rhetoric.

“It seems like everyone is willing to fight for a win, but can anyone deliver a win?,” Curtis asked. “You’ve heard the naive and eager promises today. ... But lets be honest, you’re tired of broken commitments.”

Curtis, who has represented Utah’s 3rd Congressional District since 2017, listed a litany of policy wins delivered to rural Utah and the country as a whole.

During his 3 1/2 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Curtis said he had “transferred more land from federal ownership to the state than anyone in the state’s history.” The congressman also emphasized his expertise in energy policy and his aggressive stances on foreign policy in relation to China.

Wilson, Walton, Phippen, and five other candidates, including attorney Brent Hatch, were eliminated over the course of three rounds of voting.

Staggs, Curtis, Wilson and Walton will appear on the June 25 primary ballot unless they choose to drop out before the ballots are finalized early next week.

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 candidate for U.S. Senate in Utah is mountaineer Caroline Gleich.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Staggs said he would defund NATO if elected to the U.S. Senate. He actually said he would defund the United Nations.