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Utah Hands Trump Major Win at State GOP Convention

The home party of Romney and McMullin is changing direction.

by | May 5, 2024 | Articles, Opinion, Politics

Utah, a state regarded as home of the squishy Republican, is going Donald Trump’s way. That is the inevitable takeaway from its GOP convention, in which Trump-aligned politicians swept to the forefront in bids for governor and a US Senate seat.

The Beehive State has been best known in red circles of late for being the land base of nationally known GOP establishment figures Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and perpetual anti-Trump protest candidate Evan McMullin. Throw in a Republican governor widely criticized as being more progressive than “moderate” in Spencer Cox, and the Utah GOP climate has seemed more akin to the Northeast US than the far-from-the-Beltway West.

That may be changing, and it gives Trump’s MAGA base a reason to celebrate that extends beyond the 2024 presidential election.

Out With the Mitt, In With a Trump Man?

“State delegates chose Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs as the state Republican Party convention nominee to replace Sen. Mitt Romney after he was endorsed by former President Donald Trump on [April 27],” Deseret News reported. Romney is not seeking re-election to a second term.

“Staggs won the crowded convention competition for Utah’s junior US Senate seat with 69.7% of the vote after delivering a series of fiery speeches to persuade state GOP delegates he was the figure most likely to disrupt the Washington, DC, establishment and support Trump’s America First policy agenda.”

“Let’s replace Joe Biden’s favorite Republican with Donald Trump’s favorite Republican in Utah,” Staggs appealed to convention delegates.

Staggs now heads to the June 25 primary firmly in the driver’s seat. He’ll still be challenged by opponents “who qualified by gathering 28,000 certified signatures,” the paper notes. “Signature-gathering candidates include [Rep. John] Curtis [R-UT], former state House Speaker Brad Wilson and Moxie Pest Control CEO Jason Walton.”

But Staggs thoroughly trounced these foes at the state convention after securing the coveted Trump endorsement, which appears to be every bit as powerful on Romney’s turf in 2024 as it is elsewhere.

“Trent Staggs is 100% MAGA, and is running to fill the Mitt Romney, a Total Loser, seat as the next senator from the Great State of Utah!” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post right before the convention.

Woke Cliches in a Shade of Utah Red

The convention also dealt a stern rebuke to Cox, who was heavily booed during his appearance at the gathering. Cox has grated on Republicans in Utah and across the US by using the language of Woke progressives to scold conservatives. He continued in that vein at the convention.

“I love you guys,” Cox said as the raspberries filled the air. “Maybe you’re booing me because you hate that I signed the largest tax cut in Utah history. Maybe you hate that I signed constitutional carry into law. Maybe you hate that we ended CRT, DEI and ESG,” he told the crowd. “Or maybe you hate that I don’t hate enough.”

GettyImages-1590328675 Spencer Cox

Spencer Cox (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

What a thing for a sitting Republican governor to say at a party convention. Cox was undoubtedly bracing for the stinging slap to the face Utah Republicans were about to give him.

“Two-thirds of delegates picked Phil Lyman – a state legislator Trump pardoned in 2020, after he was convicted of a misdemeanor for leading an illegal protest on federal land – in the 2024 gubernatorial race,” The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Cox will still be on the June 25 primary ballot, but the convention made clear that his Romney-style lecturing of conservatives is rapidly going out of style. It all amounts to a massive victory for Trump, especially on the Senate side.

As Liberty Nation related on April 8, opposition to the Trump America First agenda remains stout on the upper chamber’s red side of the aisle. Outgoing Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has reminded America that he isn’t going anywhere. He will serve out the remainder of his term, which lasts through 2026.

“I’m particularly involved in actually fighting back against the isolationist movement in my own party. And some in the other as well. And the symbol of that lately is: Are we going to help Ukraine or not?” McConnell stressed in a radio interview. “I’ve got this sort of on my mind for the next couple years as something I’m going to focus on.”

McConnell has plenty of allies in the GOP Senate ranks. Many of them were endorsed by Trump in an effort to win Republican control of the chamber, despite the fact that he was backing candidates, such as Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), who have proven to be every bit as strongly opposed to his core policies as your average Democrat senator.

For Trump and his movement, which is still very much an insurgency within the GOP after eight-plus years, it is not enough to have Republicans fill Senate seats. He desperately needs senators who will align themselves with his policies. Replacing a Mitt Romney with a “100% MAGA” Trent Staggs goes a long way in that direction.

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