Exclusive: Trump-endorsed Senate candidate details how he will make Utah ‘America First’

by Alex Caldwell

Photo: Alamy

For the past five years, Utah’s conservatives have faced the ire of Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, one of the nation’s most vocal critics of President Donald Trump.

However, rather than attempt running for reelection in a state that voted for the 45th president by more than 20 points in 2020, Romney announced that he would be one of just two incumbent Republican senators so far to retire in January 2025.

As Romney prepares to depart his seat in the heavily red state, Republicans have been flocking to run for the incumbent’s open seat. Whoever wins the primary will likely cruise to a decisive win in the general election.

Riverton, Utah’s Republican mayor, Trent Staggs, is one such candidate.

During an exclusive phone interview with RSBN on Tuesday, Staggs outlined his campaign’s progress since he last spoke with the network last year, even touting the 45th president’s endorsement.

Staggs was the first Republican to officially announce a primary bid against Romney in May 2023—before the incumbent had declared his intent to retire.

After campaigning for nearly a year, and just hours before primary delegates voted in the state’s Republican Convention, Staggs received President Trump’s official endorsement in May.

According to Staggs, he was driving to the convention the night before the vote when the president called him to offer his endorsement.

In a separate support statement in a post to Truth Social, President Trump called Staggs “100% MAGA,” writing that the mayor will “Create Jobs, Stop Inflation, Grow the Economy, and Secure the Border” if he succeeds “Loser” Romney.

When asked by RSBN why he thought the president endorsed his campaign, Staggs responded that it was a combination of his keen ambition to challenge Mitt Romney and numerous other endorsements from Trump-aligned individuals, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Vivek Ramaswamy, Kari Lake, and many more, that “caught [Trump’s] attention.”

“Many that are close friends of [President Trump] had already endorsed me,” Staggs noted. “He appreciated the courage that I had jumping in to challenge Mitt Romney.”

Following President Trump’s endorsement and the mayor’s passionate speeches to convention delegates, Staggs took a record 70 percent of the contest’s vote.

Staggs also received the backing of Utah’s Republican Party, who ultimately selected him as their party’s nominee.

Utah Republican Rep. John Curtis finished in a distant second place with over 30 percent.

Following the convention, Republican candidates, including Staggs, Curtis, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson, and businessman Jason Walton, will advance to a primary election on June 25.

Utah’s Republican primary system is certainly different from that of other states. Candidates must participate in the state convention and the follow-up primary race.

Staggs explained that under the state’s previous election rules, “you were automatically the nominee” if you carried over 60 percent of the vote in the convention alone.

“There was no primary. You moved straight to the general,” Staggs told RSBN. “That’s how Mike Lee ended up unseating a three-term incumbent, Bob Bennett, back in 2010.”

“It was after that that basically the state legislature weighed in and ended up creating an alternate path for Republicans to get on a primary ballot,” he argued. “It’s what I call the ‘RINO Protection Act,’ and it allows people to buy their way on the ballot.”

Nonetheless, Staggs said the race was “looking great” from his perspective, and he feels that he will ultimately prevail over his nearest challenger, Rep. John Curtis.

Staggs claimed that there are “vast differences” between himself and Curtis and that “you couldn’t have two candidates more completely juxtaposed.”

“I’ve got the support of President Trump. I’ve endorsed President Trump a year ago,” said Staggs. “Congressman Curtis—John Curtis—has still not endorsed President Trump.”

He continued, “[Curtis] actually was one of the 30 or so Republicans that voted for the January 6th Committee, he voted for the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, and he censured President Trump on the House floor, unfortunately.”

Staggs also accused his opponent, who chairs the Conservative Climate Caucus, of supporting “climate alarmism” while highlighting his own endorsement from the Oil and Gas Workers Association of America and his pro-energy record.

“We need to ensure that Utahans understand that I’ve got the support of President Trump,” the mayor said. “I’ve already built a great coalition in the Senate of America First Senators, like Sen. Tuberville, R-Ala., who’s endorsed me.”

Staggs concluded, “I’ve got a lot of the Freedom Caucus members that have also supported my candidacy, and so I’ve committed to join that Freedom Caucus equivalent in the Senate—and try to get us to a majority within our own party—so we ensure that we advance an America First agenda and really support President Trump.”

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