A mayor of Utah has declared he would run for Sen. Mitt Romney’s Senate seat in the state’s 2024 Senate race, making him the first person to officially challenge the Republican senator should he decide to run for re-election.
Republican Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, who rose to prominence in 2020 for opposing mask mandates amid the coronavirus pandemic, said he wants to safeguard the nation his children would one day inherit.
Staggs told Fox News Digital, “I love my children, and I’m concerned about the country they will inherit if I sit on the sidelines.
We’ve allowed government officials to squander away the potential of the next generation for far too long, and we need more voices willing to push back.
Romney submitted FEC paperwork last month in a probable first step toward seeking re-election, but his chief of staff told local media that he had not made a final decision.
When asked why he believes Romney may not be an effective leader for the state, Staggs said, “Unfortunately, Mitt Romney has let personal beefs get in the way of good governance.
From not standing with Mike Lee against raising the debt ceiling to voting for the $1.7 trillion omnibus, he has helped drive us deeper in debt.”
“He votes to impeach President Trump but then has the nerve to confirm a radical justice like Ketanji Brown Jackson and incompetent cabinet members like open border [DHS Sec. Alejandro] Mayorkas,” Staggs added.
In announcing his candidacy in the race, Staggs became the first person to publicly challenge Romney, who has angered many voters within his party for his reasoning and support for specific policies and bills.
“Mitt Romney fits in the Senate much better than I do. We’ve elected far too many people who ‘fit in’ in Washington. I’m not going to Washington to make friends, I’m going to make change,” Staggs declared.
In his first campaign video, released Tuesday, Staggs touted his candidacy in the Senate race and insisted “Washington is broken.”
“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,” Staggs said in the ad. “Now we’re almost $32 trillion in debt. Enough is enough.”
Staggs stated in the advertisement, “We have more IRS agents than border agents, and while we’re paying $4 per gallon for gas, they’re sending our money unchecked to Ukraine.”
“Right now, our debt is almost $32 trillion. There has been enough.
“When Mitt Romney moved to Utah a few years ago, he told us what he would fight for,” said Staggs. The ad flashed back to Romney’s statements before he was elected to the Senate while Staggs spoke.
In the ad, these promises were listed as an “end to illegal immigration,” a “path to a balanced budget,” efforts to “push back against federal overreach,” and the approval of “judges who follow the constitution.”
Staggs said, “But I’ve only seen him fight for the establishment, wokeness, open borders, impeaching President Trump, and making us even more in debt.”
In June 2020, when Staggs was running for mayor of Salt Lake County, he made headlines when he said that local police would not uphold a mask law in the county, even though there were a lot of coronavirus cases at the time.
Staggs told KUTV 2News in Salt Lake City at the time, “I will tell our police department, along with our city manager, to spend their money on other things that will really protect our public health.”
When asked why he didn’t like mask rules, Staggs told Fox, “I don’t think it’s up to the government to tell us how to live our lives.”
“In 2020, kids were sent home from school, parents were sent home from work, and families were sent home from church all over America,” he said. “Not where I live. I think people will always make better decisions for their own lives than the government ever could.”
Other Republicans, like Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, also think about running against Romney. In April, Wilson said he was starting an exploratory group to think about running for the Senate.
Wilson said of his time in public office, “I’ve really loved the chance we’ve had to keep government small and out of people’s lives. It’s part of what makes Utah so special.”
He went on, “I think Washington needs to be a lot more like Utah. We have a great chance to send Utah principles back to Washington, D.C., and get a conservative fighter there who will do things like we do in the Beehive State.
Wilson did not say if he has talked to Romney, who has been in the Senate since 2019, about his possible challenge.
Romney has said on the record that he has no doubt he would be re-elected if he ran for office. In 2018, he beat Jenny Wilson, a Democrat, with more than 62% of the vote.
“I am sure that if I run, I will win. Romney said that he would decide whether or not to run for re-election.
Romney was the candidate for the GOP in the 2012 presidential election, but Obama beat him.