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Senator Mitt Romney draws a GOP challenge in Trent Staggs’ Utah

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) attracted a Republican primary challenger who kicked off his campaign by criticizing the first-term senator for supporting bipartisan spending deals, voting to convict President Donald Trump in his two impeachment trials and voting to confirm Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.

Trent Staggs, mayor of Riverton, Utah, a town of about 45,000 near Salt Lake City, kicked off his candidacy on Tuesday with a video in which he also pointed to Romney’s former residence in Massachusetts – where he was served as governor from 2003 to 2007 — and accused Romney of breaking campaign promises in his 2018 Senate bid.

“The only thing I’ve seen him fight for is the establishment, revival, open borders, impeachment of President Trump, and our even deeper indebtedness,” Staggs said in the video.

Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, has yet to announce whether he will seek a second term in the Senate next year to represent his adopted state. Staggs has indicated that he seeks the GOP nomination regardless of Romney’s decision.

The main domain of the heavily Republican state – in which Romney prevailed with more than 62% of the vote in 2018 – could continue to grow. Utah House President Brad Wilson (right) last month announced the formation of an exploratory committee for the 2024 race.

In Utah, Staggs is perhaps best known for his fierce opposition as mayor to mask mandates and other health precautions during the coronavirus pandemic.

“In 2020, when we were told to close businesses, schools and churches, I said no,” he boasts in his video.

Staggs launched his Senate bid as negotiations continue in Washington between the White House and House Republicans over spending cuts and other concessions GOP lawmakers are demanding in return for a debt ceiling increase from the country.

In his video and media interviews, Staggs presented himself as unwilling to compromise on such issues.

“I think every time we compromise, it ends up costing us billions of dollars,” he told Deseret News.

“I just can’t believe we’re $32 trillion in debt,” Staggs told the publication (the actual figure is around $31.4 trillion). “And I think it’s the height of immorality to have really imposed that level of burden on my children and on future generations. It’s time to get tough on getting our finances in order.

In the Senate, Romney has demonstrated a willingness to work with Democrats on tax and other issues and has been a fierce critic of Trump at times.

He voted to convict Trump in his 2020 Senate impeachment trial on charges related to pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, as well as in Trump’s 2021 trial for incitement. insurgency linked to his role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Trump was acquitted in both cases because the two-thirds threshold for sentencing was not met.

Staggs told the Deseret News he believed Romney would seek re-election and that he voted for him in 2018.

Romney is a “really good family man,” Staggs told the publication, but he said he viewed Romney’s policy ideas as “ruinous for America.”


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