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John Curtis, a Moderate House Republican, Wins Utah’s Senate Primary


Representative John Curtis, a centrist Republican, won his party’s primary for U.S. Senate in Utah on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, beating a more conservative candidate endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Curtis, who has held a House seat in eastern Utah since 2017, has portrayed himself as a moderate workhorse in the image of the senator whose seat he is vying to fill: Mitt Romney, a former presidential candidate who said he was retiring to make way for a “new generation of leaders.”

Mr. Curtis, 64, is perhaps not the fresh-faced successor Mr. Romney, 77, had imagined. But Mr. Curtis, a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and a leader of Republican efforts to address climate change in Congress, is a clear heir apparent to Mr. Romney’s centrist style of politics.

Unlike Mr. Romney, Mr. Curtis is not a vocal critic of Mr. Trump. Mr. Romney, who voted twice to remove Mr. Trump from office during the former president’s two impeachment trials in the Senate, had pleaded with his fellow Republicans to unite behind an alternative to the former president for 2024.

While Mr. Curtis declined to support Mr. Trump in the 2016 election, he largely backed his agenda once he was elected to Congress. But he refused to support Mr. Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. In the midst of this year’s Senate primary race, and seeking to polish his conservative bona fides, Mr. Curtis defended the former president’s vow to prosecute his political enemies if elected president.

“I think it’s just human nature to feel the way that President Trump has expressed himself,” Mr. Curtis said during a debate ahead of the primary.

Still, he faced attacks from his main primary opponent, Trent Staggs, the mayor of Riverton, Utah, for not being sufficiently supportive of the former president. Mr. Trump had endorsed Mr. Staggs, describing him in a video last weekend as “a little bit of a long shot” but “MAGA all the way.” For months, polls showed Mr. Curtis leading the race by a wide margin.

Mr. Curtis began his political career as a Democrat. He unsuccessfully ran for the Utah State Senate in 2000, and then served for a year as the chair of the Democratic Party in Utah County. He ran for mayor of Provo as a Republican in 2009, and served in that position until 2017.

That year, when Representative Jason Chaffetz, the influential chair of the House Oversight Committee, abruptly retired from his House seat in eastern Utah, Mr. Curtis jumped into the race, winning the Republican primary with 40 percent of the vote and defeating his Democratic opponent in the special election in a landslide. Mr. Curtis has since cruised to re-election to three full terms in the House.


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