With Curtis gunning for Senate, it’s a wide-open race for his seat in Congress
Now that John Curtis is running for the U.S. Senate, there’s no incumbent in the race for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District.
Ten Republicans are trying to secure the nomination. They include Zac Wilson, Lucky Bovo, Katharyn Dahlin, state Sen. Mike Kennedy, Stewart Peay, JR Bird of Roosevelt, former state Rep. Chris Herrod, Clayton Hunsaker, State Auditor John Dougall and Case Lawrence. Glenn J. Wright is running as the sole Democratic candidate.
Holly Richardson, editor of Utah Policy, doesn’t think any of the candidates are particularly prominent, so right now there is “not a clear frontrunner.” But the candidate pool does feature a range of experience levels, including some with experience running a campaign.
“There are people who have run like Mayor Rod Bird from Roosevelt, who has run a smaller area, who's now wanting to take his experience to Congress,” said Richardson. “And then there are people who have run multiple times, like John Dougal, who's currently the state auditor, and Mike Kennedy, who's a state senator, and who has been a state representative before that.”
One candidate, Chris Herrod, has been on the primary ballot against Curtis in the last three elections. Richardson said Herrod’s far right politics have made him well-liked among the Republican delegates who chose him, but she’s not sure his path to the ballot will be as certain this year.
“I don't think there's a clear distinction this time between, say somebody who's a little more centrist, or more moderate even, and somebody who the delegates are really going to be supportive of,” she said. “You have multiple people in the race who are well-liked by the delegates.”
Candidates can also get on the primary ballot by gathering signatures. This is often the route of more moderate candidates that are less popular with delegates.
Brigham Young University political science professor Quin Monson said this approach gets pricey, mainly because it has to happen so early in the campaign. Still, Monson said even “incumbents have the sense to go get signatures because they don't want to risk getting to the convention and somehow losing their seat,” so a candidate unable to pursue this route likely just doesn’t have the funds.
And when it comes to signatures Monson said “the true test is who has any money. If they don't have donors, is there somebody that can self-fund their way to ballot access? And I think it's still a little early to figure that out.”
This leaves the race for the 3rd Congressional District wide open heading into the June 25 Republican primary.