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Who is John Curtis, the Republican likely to succeed Romney in the Senate?

Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), a centrist Republican, won a crowded primary for U.S. Senate in Utah, beating out a more conservative candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump to replace outgoing Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). The Utah congressman held a more than 20-point lead over his next closest competitor, Mayor Trent Staggs, whom Trump endorsed shortly […]

Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), a centrist Republican, won a crowded primary for U.S. Senate in Utah, beating out a more conservative candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump to replace outgoing Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).

The Utah congressman held a more than 20-point lead over his next closest competitor, Mayor Trent Staggs, whom Trump endorsed shortly before the Utah GOP convention in April, as ballots continued to be counted late Tuesday night.

Curtis, who has represented the 3rd Congressional District since 2017, is a bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus member and a leader of GOP efforts to address climate change in Congress. He is currently the longest-serving member of the House delegation from Utah.


WASHINGTON – JUNE 14: Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, walks up the House steps for votes in the Capitol on Friday, June 14, 2024. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

While Curtis did not win the Utah convention, he was able to qualify for the primary ballot utilizing a signature-gathering method put into place for centrist candidates. While Utah Republicans typically embrace the most conservative candidates, the voters sometimes don’t follow party leaders. Winning a Utah nominating convention only means the candidate will appear on the primary ballot — but it doesn’t mean they become the eventual nominee. 

The congressman, known for his pragmatic conservatism and passion for addressing climate change, portrayed himself in the image of Romney, who is retiring at the end of this term. During the campaign, Staggs claimed Curtis was “a Democrat posing as a Republican.”

Curtis is the only candidate who did not directly endorse Trump’s reelection bid, though he pledged to support the party’s nominee. The 64-year-old previously declined to support Trump’s 2016 election but embraced the former president’s agenda once he was elected. He has not been as vocal of a critic of Trump as Romney, who voted twice to remove the former president from office during the two impeachment trials in the Senate, but he refused to support Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

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Curtis, a former Democrat, ran unsuccessfully for Utah state Senate in 2000. At that time, he served as the chairman of the Democratic Party in Utah County. He switched his party affiliation to a Republican in 2009 when he ran for mayor of Provo, where he served until 2017. That year, he ran for Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) seat and won a Republican primary and defeated his Democratic opponent. He has easily won reelection to three full terms in the House.

Curtis will face Democrat Caroline Gleich, a professional skier, in November. The general election for Utah’s Senate seat is not expected to be competitive because the state is reliably Republican and has not elected a Democratic senator since 1970.

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