In a move that came as a relief to many conservatives, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) announced on Wednesday his decision not to seek reelection in 2024. Citing the need for a “new generation of leaders,” Romney will step away after a tenure marked by friction within the GOP and criticism for his frequent disagreements with President Donald Trump. The move paves the way for a crowded Republican primary, giving Utah conservatives an opportunity to elect a more ideologically reliable candidate.
“Mitt Romney, sometimes referred to as Pierre Delecto, will not be seeking a second term in the U.S. Senate, where he did not serve with distinction. A big primary fight against him was in the offing, but now that will not be necessary. Congrats to all. Make America Great Again!” Trump exclaimed on his TruthSocial account.
I WONDER WHY HE'S NOT RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION…😭🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/gWh1SZcDFJ
— il Donaldo Trumpo (@PapiTrumpo) September 13, 2023
Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs was one of the early contenders, having declared his challenge in May. Staggs took issue with Romney’s positions on critical conservative matters, like immigration and fiscal responsibility. “The only thing I’ve seen him fight for are the establishment, wokeness, open borders, impeaching President Trump, and putting us even deeper into debt,” Staggs stated earlier this year. While he may not have held statewide office, he has the backing of national conservative figures, such as Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk.
Another strong contender is Speaker of the Utah House, Brad Wilson. Though he hasn’t made an official announcement, Wilson’s exploratory committee has attracted significant funding. Wilson looks well-positioned with over $2.2 million raised since its launch in April and support from a majority of Utah lawmakers. “We are at a crossroads, and it’s never been more important to elect a strong conservative fighter to the U.S. Senate,” Wilson said, emphasizing the urgency of robust conservative leadership.
Additionally, the field might see the entry of some Utah congressmen. Though no formal announcements have been made, Reps. Blake Moore (R-UT), Chris Stewart (R-UT), John Curtis (R-UT) and Burgess Owens (R-UT) could be potential candidates. Curtis has hinted at a possible run, stating on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, that he’s encouraged by friends urging him to seek the Senate seat.
Financially, candidates are already showing muscle. Riverton Mayor Staggs’ campaign has raised $170,573 between April and June, loaning itself an additional $50,000. Brad Wilson, on the other hand, contributed $1.2 million to his exploratory committee.
Romney’s departure opens the gate for a new breed of conservative leadership in Utah. It’s a golden opportunity for the Republican Party to bring in fresh faces committed to conservative principles, which will align more closely with the party’s base rather than siding with Democrats or muddying the ideological waters. As President Trump aptly put it, this is “fantastic news” not just for Utah but for America and the Republican Party.