Riverton, Utah Mayor Trent Staggs on Tuesday announced he would challenge incumbent Senator Mitt Romney in the 2024 Republican primary for the state‘s U.S. Senate seat. Staggs‘ bold move to take on the entrenched Republican Senator coincides with Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson also forming an exploratory committee and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes considering a bid.
“Washington is broken, and every time we compromise it costs us trillions,” Staggs said in a video released on Twitter. “We have more IRS agents than border agents, and while we’re paying four dollars a gallon for gas, they’re sending money unchecked to Ukraine. We’re almost $32 trillion in debt. Enough is enough.”
Staggs, was first elected Mayor in 2017, and cites Romney‘s record of endorsing the establishment, ‘wokeness’, open borders, impeaching President Trump, and putting the country further in debt, as his primary reasons to challenge the unpopular Senator.
Romney, a Brigham Young University graduate, first moved back to Utah in 2013 and was elected to the Senate in 2018 with a thirty–two point margin of victory. He then participated in bipartisan legislative efforts on infrastructure spending and gun control while also becoming the first member of Congress to vote to remove a President of his own party.
But in 2021 he voted twice to impeach Trump, and his unpopularity within Utah saw him loudly booed at the 2021 Utah Republican convention.
However, Staggs may be an even bigger political liability to Romney. Staggs gained nationwide attention in early 2021 for vocally opposing sexually–charged materials in school libraries.
“This filth needs to be removed from our schools. There’s over one hundred volumes that one parent organization [put] together. A hundred volumes still in Jordan School Districts that clearly violate the law,” Staggs said at a school board meeting.
Utah needs another proven fighter and conservative in the Senate. We need someone unafraid to stand against the Washington establishment. That's who I am, but I need your help to get there https://t.co/yg5tnTG4mV pic.twitter.com/qof9JQYi7C
— Mayor Trent Staggs (@MayorStaggs) May 23, 2023
It appears that Utah Republicans have come to the decision that Romney is no longer representing the interests of the state, and are ready for a change, leaving Romney vulnerable to a potentially embarrassing primary loss. Whether or not Staggs can mount a successful challenge to the long–standing Senator remains to be seen, but it at least shows that the Republican voting base is becoming increasingly dissatisfied with Romney and looking for an alternative.