UT-3 Conventions Preview & Open Thread

Results Update: In something of a surprise, Herrod has bested Henderson on the last ballot. The August 15 primary will now be between Herrod, Ainge, and Curtis. The Democrats, as expected, nominated physician Kathryn Allen.

(This post is a collaboration between me and Jon Henrik Gilhuus – thanks to him for writing much of this preview!)

Republicans are holding their special convention today for UT-3, a very Republican (but Trump-unfriendly) seat around Provo which will be vacated in two weeks by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R). UT-3 covers the southeast quarter of the state, but substantially all the population is in the Provo area and its suburbs, along with a small slice of southern Salt Lake City exurbs. The convention opens at Noon ET, with results expected sometime in the mid-to-late afternoon. A special election has been set for Nov. 7, with a primary on Aug. 15. Utah recently changed from its mandatory-convention system, in which a primary was only held between the top two convention finishers if neither took 60%, to a more normal system where candidates can petition their way onto the primary ballot.

Tanner Ainge

As a result, the convention is more like a MN or CO contest, where the party endorsement is nice to have (and a boost to a candidate’s chances in the primary) but it is not mandatory to get on to the ballot. Also, unlike before, only the convention winner (even without a 60% supermajority) gets a primary ballot spot. Thus, the convention will winnow the field significantly, since the deadline for gathering signatures was this Monday (though there is word that deadline, being before the seat was actually open, may be subject to a legal challenge). Two candidates, Provo Mayor John Curtis (R) and lawyer Tanner Ainge (R) have gathered enough signatures to continue on to the primary regardless of the convention result, meaning the primary will be at minimum a two-way and at most a three-way race. Curtis will compete for the convention endorsement as well, while Ainge is skipping today.

John Curtis

In addition to Curtis, there seem to be four other major candidates in the convention. But as Mayor of Provo since 2009, Curtis is probably the candidate with the highest name recognition.  He turned in a very impressive 15,000 signatures; more than twice the necessary number. These two factors may convince a majority of today’s delegates to eventually support him, but he should probably not be seen as the frontrunner at the convention. Curtis was a Democrat from 2000 until 2006, during which time he ran for State Senate and was even County chair for a period. If that’s not enough to throw suspicion on his conservatism, his two terms as Mayor has meant that he’s had to compromise on ideological purity many times. His decision to gather signatures has also diminished his stature with quite a few delegates, who see themselves as the guarantor of party purity.

Deidre Henderson

The favorite at the convention is thought to be State Sen. Deidre Henderson (R). She was first elected to the Senate in 2012, having started her political career as a volunteer for Chaffetz when he first ran in 2008. Henderson is generally considered one of the most libertarian members of the Senate, having promoted business-friendly legislation and transparency. Her relative youth and telegenic appearance should also help her today.

Margaret Dayton

Henderson’s most prominent rival is thought to be State Sen. Margaret Dayton (R). Dayton is the longest serving female member of the Utah Legislature, having been a State Rep for ten years before ousting an incumbent GOP Senator in 2006. She is usually ranked among the top (social) conservatives in the Senate and locally she is nicknamed “The Iron Lady”. These are traits likely to endear her to the delegates, but her advanced age might give them pause, as 68 is a bit late to be starting a House career.

Chris Herrod

The most antiestablishment major candidate is ex-State Rep. Chris Herrod (R), Herrod was appointed to the House in 2007, when he beat out none other than John Curtis for the job. Herrod ran against Senator Orin Hatch in 2012, but was eliminated at the convention. In 2016 he ran and lost against incumbent GOP State Sen. Curt Bramble – the man Curtis lost against as a Democrat in 2000. Politically, Herrod is perhaps the most critical of illegal immigration of the major candidates and in manner and choice of words, he is probably also the one closest to Donald Trump. Herrod’s antiestablishment leanings could cut either way depending on the makeup of the delegate pool; while he is probably a long-shot, a favorable delegate pool could propel him to victory.

Brad Daw

The final candidate with political experience is State Rep. Brad Daw (R). Daw was first elected to the State House in 2004, but lost the nomination in 2012 before winning his seat back in 2014. Daw was County chair in the 1990s, so he has some organizational experience and contacts. However, though he is a serious contender, he is not expected to win, unless some of the other candidates need a compromise choice to fall back on.

Debbie Aldrich

Among the six minor candidates, we have maybe to or three with an outside chance of winning. Attorney and veteran Stewart Peay (R) has the endorsement of Ann Romney, who is an aunt of his wife. The fairly libertarian Peay could have some support in an area where Romney is a veritable folk hero. Pundit and activist Debbie Aldrich (R) runs a local Friends of Israel group and seems to be more Trump-friendly than most Utahns; she might have some base among Trumpists. Finally, former Congressional staffer Damian Kidd (R) originally declared his candidacy for this seat back in January, originally intending to run against Chaffetz, so he may have some organization. His sole political experience seems to be as an aide to then Congressman, now Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho.

The other minor candidates are defense contractor Paul Fife (R), activist and roadside assistance operator Keith Kuder (R), and IRS employee and disability activist Shayne Row (R). Remember that in conventions, there is always a small but significant chance that someone comes out of nowhere to win by giving a great speech – we have seen that happen too many times to discount the possibility here. Thus, don’t think that the candidates with the biggest stature are necessarily the prohibitive favorites.

Kathie Allen

The Democrats are also nominating today, at roughly the same time as the GOP. The overwhelming favorite seems to be physician Kathie Allen (D), who has so far raised almost 700K, although most of it from before Chaffetz announced his resignation. She has been active with the Utah Medical Association and has been involved in Democratic campaigns since the mid 70s.

With her financial and organizational lead she should be favored over the two other candidates, health worker and activist Ben Frank (D) and biologist and environmental activist Carl Ingwell (D). They’ve raised less than 10K between them and at a recent debate they took some potshots at Allens prolific fundraising, claiming that she didn’t really have a political program, only money. These accusations are not likely to stick, but as with the GOP side, conventions are strange beasts and an upset can not be counted out altogether.

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22 Comments

  • Jon Henrik Gilhuus June 17, 2017 at 11:37 am

    My prediction: Henderson on the 3rd or 4th ballot.


    The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
    - P.J. O'Rourke

  • w920us June 17, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    I do like that primary ballot system where the party-endorsed candidate automatically gets ballot status and yet others can still gain ballot status through other means.


    R, South Philly, 47, Gay, WFU Alum
    #TrumpVoter #NeverHillary

  • Jon Henrik Gilhuus June 17, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Best way to follow the proceedigns may be #utpol on twitter. Salt Lake Tribune promised to livestream candidates’ speeches, but so far nuffin’ on their webpage.


    The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
    - P.J. O'Rourke

  • Jon Henrik Gilhuus June 17, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Apparently they have a livestream on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/saltlaketribune/posts/?ref=page_internal


    The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
    - P.J. O'Rourke

  • Jon Henrik Gilhuus June 17, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Henderson 202
    Herrod 200
    Dayton 145
    Peay 74
    Curtis 71
    Kidd 48
    Daw 19
    Fife 15

    Aldrich 4
    Row 2
    Kuder 0
    The last three are eliminated.


    The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
    - P.J. O'Rourke

  • Jon Henrik Gilhuus June 17, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    2nd round:

    Herrod 238
    Henderson 225
    Dayton 140
    Curtis 52
    Peay 47
    Kidd 39

    Daw 12
    Fife 9
    The last two eliminated.


    The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
    - P.J. O'Rourke

  • Jon Henrik Gilhuus June 17, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    3rd round:

    Henderson 271
    Herrod 264
    Dayton 113
    Peay 45
    Curtis 35

    Kidd 29
    One name eliminated (sigh).


    The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
    - P.J. O'Rourke

  • Jon Henrik Gilhuus June 17, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    4th round:

    Herrod 337
    Henderson 301

    Dayton 68
    Peay 27
    Curtis 19
    Three names eliminated.


    The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
    - P.J. O'Rourke

  • Conservative First June 17, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    4th round:

    Herrod 337
    Henderson 301
    ——-
    Dayton 68
    Peay 27
    Curtis 19

  • Conservative First June 17, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Henderson, Herrod give speeches before final vote. Dayton joins Herrod onstage. Huge applause. #utpol #UTGOP #CD3
    https://twitter.com/DNewsPolitics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.deseretnews.com%2Farticle%2F865683190%2FCandidates-campaigning-hard-for-delegates-as-GOP-convention-gets-underway.html

    • cer June 17, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      Herrod pulls off the convention upset!?


      Conservative first, Republican second!

  • Jon Henrik Gilhuus June 17, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    5th and final round:
    Herrod 415
    Henderson 338

    Anti-establishmentarian and ex-State Rep. Chris Herrod wins the GOP convention in something of an upset. He goes on to face attorney Tanner Ainge and Provo Mayor John Curtis in the primary Aug. 15. I can’t help but think Curtis is now favored. I’d have supported Henderson over him, but Herrod has a history of making stupid remarks. Not that this is necessarily a disqualifier anymore; see Trump, Donald.


    The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
    - P.J. O'Rourke

    • cer June 17, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      I would be temped to vote for Tanner Ainge myself, and NO it has nothing to do because I’m a Celtics fan. 🙂


      Conservative first, Republican second!

      • TheWizardOf144 June 17, 2017 at 4:54 pm

        Herrod would get my vote.

        • cer June 17, 2017 at 4:56 pm

          I have no real problem with Herrod as well…


          Conservative first, Republican second!

    • Republican Michigander June 17, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      Anyone but Curtis is my view.


      MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

      • Son_of_the_South June 17, 2017 at 11:52 pm

        Why is that? Is he anti-gun?


        24, R, TN-09
        Classical liberals are a minority. Fusionism is the answer.

        • Republican Michigander June 18, 2017 at 10:00 am

          “”””Curtis was a Democrat from 2000 until 2006, during which time he ran for State Senate and was even County chair for a period.”””

          It usually takes a diehard dem to be a county chair and state senate candidate.


          MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

  • Conservative First June 17, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    It’s worth recalling that Jason Chaffetz defeated Chris Cannon in the 2008 primary largely because of immigration. Herrod may be able to mobilize the same constituency.

  • Jon Henrik Gilhuus June 17, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Kathryn Allen won the Democratic nomination.


    The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
    - P.J. O'Rourke

    • cer June 17, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      The sacrificial lamb.


      Conservative first, Republican second!

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