A congressman and a late senator's son have now entered the race to replace outgoing Utah Sen. Romney

 January 5, 2024

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), one of the most outspoken Republican critics against former President Donald Trump, announced in September that he would not seek re-election in 2024 and instead would step aside to make room for a younger generation of conservative legislators.

A pair of rather prominent conservative Utahns announced this week that they had joined the increasingly crowded field of candidates to replace Romney in the U.S. Senate -- U.S. Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) and Brent Orrin Hatch, son of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) who preceded Romney in the Senate, according to Utah's St. George News.

Curtis announces intent to succeed Romney

In a statement released Wednesday morning, Rep. Curtis said, "As a father and grandfather, I care deeply about Utah’s future. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for U.S. Senate."

"We need to get America back on track and as your Senator, I will keep fighting reckless spending in both parties and work hard every day to make Utah an even better place," he added.

Curtis, who served as mayor of Provo before joining Congress in 2017, also released a video on social media that appeared to serve the dual purpose of a candidacy announcement and first campaign ad.

Congressman aims to move up to the Senate

The congressman also shared the news in a Tuesday interview with local NBC affiliate KSL, which noted that Curtis had waffled for months on the decision, expressing an intent to run at times while at other points suggesting that he would remain in his position as the elected representative of Utah's 3rd District.

"The second I made the announcement that I was not going to run, I started to have people reach out to me asking me to reconsider," Curtis explained. "The very people who I had made that commitment to were a lot of those voices who said, you can actually serve us better in the Senate than you can in the House. And so without that, I don’t think I could have changed my mind."

"I actually carry my seniority with me from the House to the Senate, so I won’t start as number 100. I think that’s very important for the state. I also bring that experience of how to pass legislation," he continued. "I bring that, and then I also bring a Utah focus. People know that I’m not the guy who wakes up and tries to get on TV at night. I wake up and say, 'What can I do for the district?' And I think people have really appreciated that."

Late senator's son running for father's old seat

Meanwhile, on the same day that Rep. Curtis revealed his plan to be Sen. Romney's replacement, local CBS affiliate KUTV reported that Brent Orrin Hatch also announced his candidacy to replace the outgoing senator who had in turn replaced his father in the U.S. Senate after the elder Hatch retired.

Hatch, who graduated from Brigham Young University and Columbia University School of Law, has been a practicing attorney in Utah for more than three decades and, per St. George News, has bona fide conservative credentials as the former director and current treasurer of the Federalist Society legal organization.

"I am not a professional politician. I left Washington at an early age. I have worked for over 33 years here in Utah as a lawyer protecting the rights of individuals and companies," Hatch said in a statement. "But, I still have an insider’s knowledge of the highest levels of government from serving Presidents Reagan and Bush in the White House, working with Congress, and in the Courts."

"I am prepared to use that knowledge and contacts and my experience fighting as a lawyer for my clients in representing the people of the State of Utah," he added. "Government cannot continue like it has for the past several years. We must take the budget, inflation, and securing our borders more seriously. We need to elect people who have had real jobs, had to make payrolls, and are not wed to lobbyists and the political class -- people who speak plainly and use common sense."

Mad rush of candidates to replace Romney, Curtis in Washington D.C.

St. George News observed that the announced candidacies of Rep. Curtis and Hatch made the already crowded field of candidates even larger as they joined a host of state legislators, mayors, congressional staffers, political activists, and private citizens who are vying to be Sen. Romney's replacement.

The announcement from Curtis also set off a cascading scramble among Republican and Democratic state legislators and others to be the one to fill the congressman's soon-to-be-vacant 3rd District seat in Congress next year, according to KSL.

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