Utah GOP Congressional Primaries: Winners Set To Breeze In Come November

Competitive races in two of four Republican House races pit first-term incumbent against conservative hardliner and five party rivals vying for open seat.

In a closed-primary state where registered Republican voters outnumber Democrats three-to-one, Utah’s June 25 Congressional primaries are, for all practical purposes, the “real” election.

Utah is led by a GOP trifecta with supermajorities in both state Legislature chambers. Its two U.S. Senate seats and all four U.S. House seats are occupied by Republicans.

That’s unlikely to change in November, but that doesn’t mean June’s congressional preliminaries are without contention, especially in two of Utah’s four House primaries.

Two-term incumbent Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah) faces a nominal challenge from electrician Paul Miller in his Congressional District 1 (CD 1) primary.

Accountant Bill Campbell, a GOP 2022 challenger running as a Democrat, and Libertarian Daniel Cottam, a surgeon and 2020 gubernatorial candidate, are already on the general election ballot.

In Utah’s CD 4, two-term Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) doesn’t have a primary foe. The district’s November slate is set with Democrat Katrina Fallick-Wang and United Utah Party’s Vaughn Cook securing unchallenged berths as heavy underdogs.

All eyes will be on telecommunications executive and former U.S. Army Green Beret Colby Jenkins’ campaign to unseat first-term Rep. Celeste Maloy (R-Utah) in CD 2, and on CD 3’s primary where five GOP rivals are vying for the open seat held by Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah).

Mr. Curtis is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

The clash in CD 2, which spans southwest Utah and parts of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area—75 percent of the state’s 1.97 million voters live in the 70-mile stretch along the Wasatch Front’s western flanks—has garnered the most media interest.

Ms. Maloy was elected to the House in a 2023 special election following Rep. Chris Stewart’s (R-Utah) resignation. An attorney, she was Mr. Stewart’s staff counsel.

She’s been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Messrs. Curtis, Moore, and Owens.

Ms. Maloy touts standard Republican campaign talking points in vowing to secure the border, build the wall, defuse inflation, corral federal spending, and strengthen national security.

As with most candidates across the intermountain West, the land-use attorney advocates for greater state and local control of federal public lands.

There’s little daylight between Ms. Maloy and Mr. Jenkins in policy but the challenger, a West Point graduate, former Joint Chief of Staff adviser, and Google executive, has questioned her “yes” votes for the $1.2 trillion fiscal year 2024 federal budget and to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

While Ms. Maloy has been endorsed by former President Trump, Mr. Jenkins insists he’d be more effective in advancing the MAGA agenda in a second Trump administration.

Mr. Jenkins has been backed by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)—citing Ms. Maloy’s FISA vote—Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

He also won the April 28 Utah Republican Party convention vote, 57-to-43 percent.

The two have squared off in debates, the most recent on June 10.

During that exchange, Ms. Maloy noted, despite being in office only seven months, she’s introduced a slate of bills—including legislation to transfer some federal lands to Utah.

She pointed to her vote against more military aid to Ukraine.

Mr. Jenkins pounded away at Ms. Maloy’s alleged failures in resisting the Biden agenda and said if elected, he’d enroll in the House Freedom Caucus.

None of the state’s other congressional members or candidates have made similar pledges.

There haven’t been any publicly posted polls to indicate how the vote may go.

The winner will be the overwhelming favorite to roll past Democrat Nathaniel Woodward, the Constitution Party’s Cassie Easley, and unaffiliated Tyler Murset in November.

Ms. Maloy has a significant fundraising advantage.

According to her campaign’s June 5 Federal Elections Commission (FEC) filing, she’s raised $1.4 million, spent $1.24 million, and had $167,000 in the bank.

Mr. Jenkins’ campaign reported raising $378,000, spending $296,000, with $82,200 cash-on-hand.

Roosevelt Mayor J.R. Bird (L) is among five candidates campaigning in the Utah Congressional District 3 primary but the only one who is a mayor and oilfield company owner.  (J.R. Bird For Congress)
Roosevelt Mayor J.R. Bird (L) is among five candidates campaigning in the Utah Congressional District 3 primary but the only one who is a mayor and oilfield company owner.  (J.R. Bird For Congress)

A Mayor’s Perspective

In CD 3, which spans southeast Utah, the Provo-Orem metro area, and southeastern Salt Lake City suburbs, five Republicans are vying for Mr. Curtis’s open seat.

The winner will be the overwhelming favorite against Democrat former Summit County Councilman and Vietnam veteran Glenn J. Wright, who Mr. Curtis defeated with 66.5 percent of the vote in 2022.

A Democrat hasn’t been elected in CD 3 since 1996.

On the GOP CD 3 ballot are Roosevelt Mayor J.R. Bird, Utah State Auditor John “Frugal” Dougall, state Sen. Mike Kennedy (R-Alpine), CircusTrix founder Case Lawrence, and former Utah County Republican Party Chair Stewart O. Peay.

This may be one of the most wide-open GOP wildcard elections on any 2024 primary ballot nationwide. No publicly posted polls offer clues into voter sentiment.

During a June 12 debate, all emphasized trimming federal spending with schisms surfacing in sustaining support for Ukraine in fending off Russia’s invasion.

Messrs. Peay and Lawrence said the United States should continue funneling weapons and aid to Kyiv, others voiced reservations.

Among the campaign’s biggest issues is former President Trump.

Mr. Dougall’s campaign website identifies as “Mainstream, Not MAGA” while Mr. Peay has been endorsed by Mr. Romney, his wife’s uncle and a moderate who clashed often with the former president while he was in office, voting twice for his impeachment.

Neither, however, discuss the former president much in stumps with Mr. Peay ensuring voters know he’d be more a reliably conservative vote than his uncle-in-law.

Mr. Bird told The Epoch Times in March that, as the mayor of a town, “one of the unique things that set me apart is having that direct connection with the people that I serve and represent … we see immediately how [policy decisions] affects people that we serve.”

Among his campaign planks is energy development. “I’ve worked in the oil and gas industry for the last 22 years but I’ve lived in, was born and raised in, rural Utah, in the Uintah Basin, which has the largest oil and gas reserves in the state and, frankly, one of the top reserves in the nation,” he said, vowing to do away with “Biden’s energy policies.”

Utah Sen. Mike Kennedy (R-Alpine), a medical doctor with a family practice, got a law degree to better understand Medicaid/Medicare and maintains he would be among the best-suited House candidates in the nation to address the health system.  (Mike Kennedy For Utah)
Utah Sen. Mike Kennedy (R-Alpine), a medical doctor with a family practice, got a law degree to better understand Medicaid/Medicare and maintains he would be among the best-suited House candidates in the nation to address the health system.  (Mike Kennedy For Utah)

Doctor Running for the House

Dr. Kennedy told The Epoch Times in March that among distinctions that set him apart is he is a medical doctor with a family practice, giving him an informed perspective on Medicaid and Medicare programs.

“The primary drivers in our national debt are Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and there’s no one in this race who knows Medicare-Medicaid like I do,” he said.

“I can see the places we can cut in those programs, save billions of dollars, and not damage the people who are receiving these benefits because I live in that world. I’ve lived in that world for 25 years.”

Dr. Kennedy said he attained a law degree and became an attorney to understand the laws and regulations related to health care funding.

“So when it comes to knowing the law, on how to work it, my legal training has been instrumental,” he said.

Ten years in Utah’s state Senate has provided him with the proven savvy to move legislation, Dr. Kennedy said.

“I’m the only one who’s been passing legislation in the past 10 years,” he said. “If a roof is protective, you just don’t know how good the roof is until it’s been through a storm.

“I’ve been through storm after storm after storm. And not one of my shingles is blown off and I’m not leaking water.”

Dr. Kennedy garnered the state Republican Party endorsement during the GOP convention.

He is backed by Mr. Lee and the Utah Fraternal Order of Police. In addition to Mr. Romney, Mr. Peay is endorsed by Mr. Stewart.

Messrs. Lawrence and Bird lead in fundraising with both kicking in at least $1 million in self-funding to their campaigns.

According to his campaign’s June 5 FEC filing, Mr. Lawrence has raised $2.82 million—at least $1.275 million in self-funding according to Open Secrets—and spent $2.8 million with $27,000 in the bank.

Mr. Bird’s filing showed $1.2 million raised—$1 million from his own pocket, reports Open Secrets—$1 million spent and $148,000 cash-on-hand.

Dr. Kennedy’s campaign reported raising $587,000, spending $378,500 with $208,000 in the bank; Mr. Dougall’s raised $383,000, spent $348,000, and had $35,000 cash-on-hand; Mr. Peay’s reported raising $200,000, spending $100,000 with $100,000 in the bank.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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