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Tipsheet

Mitt Romney Has His First Primary Challenger

Screenshot, @MayorStaggs

Utah is a sure Republican stronghold. Even when there were concerns Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) could be beat by Independent Evan McMullin last November, he still won by almost 14 points, though he did it with no help from his colleague, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). With this upcoming 2024 Senate race, it's pretty much a given that a Republican will hold the seat during a year with a map that's already looking favorable for the party. Whether Romney will be the nominee remains to be seen, though. Not only do we not yet know for sure if he'll actually run for reelection--though he has filed paperwork--he earned his first primary challenger on Tuesday.

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Republican Mayor Trent Staggs of Riverton made his announcement over Twitter in what is now his pinned tweet. Riverton is home to almost 45,000 residents and is the 19th largest city in Utah, out of 329 cities. 

"Right now, Washington is broken, and every time we compromise, it costs us trillions," Staggs begins his announcement by warning. He also laments having "more IRS agents than border agents" and how "while we're paying $4 per gallon for gas, they're sending our money unchecked to Ukraine," as well as being "more than $32 trillion in debt."

Staggs in his video announcement additionally takes aim at how Romney moved to Utah. He was previously the governor of Massachusetts and was the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, allowing then President Barack Obama to serve for another term. 

A video ad from Romney's campaign is shown offering promises to fight against "illegal immigration," a "path for a balanced budget," as well as a "push back against federal overreach," and to "confirm judges who follow the Constitution." 

"But the only thing I've seen him fight for," Staggs warns about Romney, "are the establishment, wokeness, open borders, impeaching President Trump, and putting us even deeper into debt."

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The video then takes a different tone, as Staggs shares his humble roots, including how "as one of 10 children I watched my parents pinch pennies on my dad's teacher's salary," which he says he's "taken that same approach to government."

He goes on to tout how as mayor he's "reduced spending and innovated to lower the cost of government," as well as how he refused to lock down during the pandemic, and his "track record of fighting big record," going on to say "I believe we need that same approach in Washington." 

Taking further aim at Romney's background, Staggs also adds "I'm not a career politician or a Massachusetts millionaire, I'm a mayor, a businessman, husband and father who wants his children to grow up with the same opportunities that I did." Staggs closes by announcing he's running for Senate "to make sure that they do."

In a statement for Townhall, Staggs doubled down on hammering Romney and his record. "Washington is broken, and Mitt Romney is, frankly, part of the problem. He promised he’d fight for us, but he’s supported Biden’s massive deficits, open borders, and radical judges. Enough is enough," he said. "As mayor of Riverton, I’ve cut taxes and spending while providing better services. I’ve driven economic growth, fought for the unborn, and against wokeness in schools. I said no to mask mandates and lockdowns," he added, further touting his record. 

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He also directed people to his campaign website of trenstaggs.com for his Senate platform, which includes the subgroups of "Smaller Government," "Safer Families," and "Stronger Economy."

Staggs is likely not going to be Romney's only primary challenger. Last month, Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson announced he was forming an exploratory committee to consider such a challenge. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes had expressed interest in March of last year, something he may still be considering. 

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