Sep 27, 2023 - Politics

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson announces U.S. Senate run to replace Romney

Gov. Spencer Cox (left), House Speaker Brad Wilson (middle) and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall (right) during a press conference in Salt Lake City on Jan. 14. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson on Wednesday evening declared his candidacy in the 2024 race to replace Sen. Mitt Romney during a rally in Draper.

State of play: The 54-year-old real estate developer joins Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs and Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird Jr. in a race that's expected to draw a competitive GOP primary field for the rare open seat.

Catch up quick: Wilson's announcement comes soon after Romney revealed he would not seek a second term.

What he's saying: "We have an opportunity to send a conservative fighter to the U.S. Senate, armed with Utah's conservative values, who will fight for change," Wilson told supporters Wednesday.

  • "I am that conservative fighter," he said.

Details: Former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes and state Reps. Kera Birkeland (R-Morgan) and Karianne Lisonbee (R-Clearfield) were among the speakers at the event praising Wilson's leadership in the state Legislature.

By the numbers: Wilson amassed more than $1 million in campaign contributions and loaned himself another $1.2 million, per Federal Election Commission filings from April through June.

The other side: Utah Democratic Party chair Diane Lewis released a statement last week slamming Wilson for overseeing "some of the most divisive and partisan legislation" in state history.

Flashback: Gov. Spencer Cox gave Wilson a "tentative endorsement" last week.

  • "It's no secret that I'm very close to our current speaker of the House," Cox said during his monthly news conference.
  • "He's the type of person that would make an incredible senator," the governor added. "I believe he's one of the best speakers of the House that we've ever had in this state."
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