Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs officially conceded in the Republican primary election to replace Sen. Mitt Romney on Thursday morning after the race was called for Rep. John Curtis on Tuesday night.

The former candidate’s statement, posted on X, expressed frustration about the levels of spending in the race and the way that money was spent against him.

“We need to reform this system,” Staggs said.

On election night, Curtis responded to questions about the influence of outside money in the race.

“I’m not going to deny it didn’t influence it,” Curtis said. “But I also feel like from the beginning, we had the right message, we had the right reputation, we had all the formula pieces that perhaps complemented, but the race was not determined by that.”

Staggs expressed his gratitude for his supporters, family and campaign team. He also drew attention to the high profile endorsements he received from Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.; and former President Donald Trump.

“Thank you for taking a chance on a small-town mayor and his goal to take on the establishment,” Staggs said.

Staggs became the GOP state convention nominee in April shortly after receiving Trump’s endorsement. The mayor, who was the first candidate to officially enter Utah’s crowded Senate race in May 2023, finished in a distant second place in the primary.

The race was called for Staggs’ opponent, 3rd District congressman Curtis, within half an hour of polls closing Tuesday night. As of Thursday morning, Curtis led with just under 50% of the vote with Staggs behind at 31%. Former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson and Moxie Pest Control CEO Jason Walton trailed with 13% and 6% of the vote, respectively.

Vote totals are still being updated by county election offices.

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Staggs’ concession statement did not mention Curtis by name — unlike that of Walton and Wilson. But he did mention the historic amounts of money spent in the four-way contest.

“Unfortunately the outcome of this election didn’t go the way we had hoped,” Staggs said. “It is concerning to me the outsized influence money plays in politics generally, and what we witnessed here in Utah with this election.”

Staggs said his campaign was outspent by over $10 million and referenced $2 million in opposition spending targeted at him in the final weeks of the election that was previously reported by the Deseret News. Staggs said the resulting negative advertising attacked him “directly with all manner of falsehoods and dishonesty.”

Other candidates were also on the receiving end of negative ads, including Curtis.

“My family and I are uncertain what God has in store for us next, but trust in him,” Staggs said. “I pray that our nation will return to its founding principles once again, and that the next senator from Utah will represent me, my family, community and state with honor.”

Utah’s GOP primary to fill Romney’s open Senate seat saw millions pour in from national special interest groups as well as candidates’ personal wealth.

How much money was spent in Utah’s Senate primary?

The total amount spent in the race likely exceeds $23 million when combining campaign fundraising, loans from the candidates and engagement from political action committees.

The vast majority of outside spending in the race was spent by pro-Curtis groups — over $9.6 million. By law, PACs cannot coordinate with campaigns on expenditures, including advertisements.

Curtis also out-raised his opponents, receiving nearly $3 million in donations, transferring another $800,000 from another campaign committee and ending with more than $575,000 on hand as of June 5, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Over $13 million was spent to support Curtis, adding together all campaign and PAC expenditures.

“It’s hard to really understand how much impact that had on the race,” Curtis told reporters immediately after the race was called on Tuesday night. “I think on the one hand, you can’t ignore that it didn’t have an impact. On the other, if you go back to the early polls, nothing really ever changed much throughout this race” with the undecided support for candidates, he said.

A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll conducted in January found a majority, 52%, of GOP primary voters were 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.

Wilson spent the most of his own money, receiving more than $2 million in contributions and loaning himself $3 million, for a total of $5 million raised over the course of the election, with $554,000 left on hand.

Walton loaned himself $2.5 million early on in the race and received nearly $300,000 in donations for a total of more than $2.8 million, with over $250,000 left on hand.

Staggs raised more than $1.1 million over the course of this campaign, loaned himself $90,000 and had more than $375,000 in the weeks leading up to the election. His campaign was independently supported by nearly $900,000 in outside PAC spending.

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