Romney Gets the Worst News from Utah Mayor - Will Mitt Survive a 2024 Re-Election Bid?


At present, Mitt Romney is known for occupying two roles: U.S. senator from Utah and professional NeverTrumper. He might be about to relinquish one of them, and it’s not because he’s made nice with The Donald.

Riverton, Utah, Mayor Trent Staggs announced Tuesday that he is seeking the Republican nomination for the seat currently held by Romney in the 2024 election.

“Right now, Washington is broken,” Staggs said in a video announcing his candidacy. “And every time we compromise, it costs us trillions.

“We have more IRS agents than border agents. And while we’re paying $4 a gallon for gas, they’re sending our money unchecked to Ukraine. Now, we’re almost $32 trillion in debt. Enough is enough.”

Then, Staggs noted how, several years ago, Romney “moved to Utah and told us what he’d fight for.”

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Cue the clip of Romney promising to end illegal immigration, putting America “on a path to a balanced budget” and to “push back against federal overreach and to confirm judges who follow the Constitution.”

Yeah, how did that turn out?

“The only thing I’ve seen [Romney] fight for are the establishment, wokeness, open borders, impeaching President Trump and putting us even deeper into debt,” Staggs said.

In an interview with the Salt Lake City Deseret News, Staggs said he came to the decision to run after a discussion with his family and friends.

As for his experience, he noted that he’d been in elected office in Riverton, a Salt Lake City suburb with a population of just over 45,000, for a decade as a City Council member and mayor.

“And throughout that service, I think I have proven myself as a fighter, somebody who is consistently conservative, on all fronts,” he said. “I have consistently been … on the front lines of what I call the front lines of federal or government overreach.”

While Romney hasn’t said whether he’ll run again for the seat he won in 2018, Staggs told the Deseret News he assumes the incumbent senator will. While the mayor thinks Romney is a “really good family man,” he said the senator’s ideas are “ruinous for America.”

The Riverton mayor isn’t the only Republican considering a run against Romney; last month, Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson announced an exploratory committee to look into a Senate run.

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Staggs became the first to officially throw his hat into the ring, however.

Given Mitt’s long history in politics — two terms as governor of Massachusetts and an unsuccessful run at the White House as the Republican standard-bearer for president in 2012 — you would think that a suburban Salt Lake City mayor would have an uphill battle against him. And you’d be right — but only to a point.

While Romney has broad appeal across the reliably Republican state of Utah, that relatively high level of support doesn’t extend to Mitt’s own party.

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In April, according to the Deseret News, a poll found that while 52 percent of voters approved of Romney’s performance in the Senate vs. 44 percent who disapproved, only 47 percent of Republicans said they approve or strongly approve of the job Romney is doing.

What’s worse, only 23 percent who identified as “very conservative” approved of his performance.

With reactions like this one from a Twitter user — who responded to Staggs’ video by commenting “Anyone but Romney” — you can see how a more conservative alternative to the senator might gain traction:

Meanwhile, the same poll found 73 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing, including 60 percent of Utah voters who described themselves as “very liberal.”

Apparently, in the intervening 11 years since the acrimonious 2012 presidential election, they’ve forgotten all about “corporations are people” and the dog on top of Romney’s car.

Nice going, Mitt. You’re impressing all the wrong people at exactly the wrong time.

Unless Romney wants to pull a Kyrsten Sinema and declare himself independent, then, he could be in a bit of trouble; Utah has a “sore loser” law that prohibits those who lose in the primary from appearing on the general election ballot.

Thus, even though there are enough liberals in Utah to make Romney look theoretically popular in a general election, that’ll be of little help to him if the state’s Republicans have anything to say about it.

Considering that primaries, in general, tend to draw more ardent conservatives or liberals, depending on the party, that spells trouble for one of the Senate’s biggest RINOs.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture