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John Curtis Wins GOP Primary In Third District Congressional Race

Julia Ritchey, KUER
John Curtis poses for pictures with supporters after declaring victory in the 3rd Congressional District's primary race on August 15, 2017.

Provo Mayor John Curtis was declared the winner of Tuesday night’s Republican primary for the congressional race to replace Jason Chaffetz, though his main opponent had not yet conceded.  

Gov. Gary Herbert introduced presumptive nominee John Curtis to a hotel ballroom full of exuberant supporters in downtown Provo shortly after he was declared the winner of the race.


Curtis defeated former state lawmaker Chris Herrod and political newcomer Tanner Ainge for the 3rd Congressional District seat vacated by Chaffetz, who stepped down this summer to join Fox News.


Although Ainge conceded to Curtis, Herrod said he wanted to wait until more ballots were counted.


Curtis weathered a barrage of attack ads and mailers funded by out-of-state Super PACs in the final weeks of the campaign that tried to paint him as insufficiently conservative.


The Provo Mayor relied on voter signatures to secure a place on the Republican primary ballot.  State GOP delegates chose Herrod as their nominee at the party’s organizing convention earlier this year.


In his victory speech, Curtis credited his campaign for not turning negative.


“I’ve got a message to those PACs in Washington, D.C. and those special interests: This is my town, this is my district, go home, you wasted your money!”


Voters like Provo resident Janely Sanchez said she picked Curtis because of his track record as mayor and for his less ideological tone.


“He’s very much a moderate, and he gets a lot of criticism for it, but Utah needs to change,” she said.


Curtis will now face Democrat Kathie Allen in the general election on November 7.


Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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