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Unpredictable Race for Ex-Rep. Chaffetz's Seat in Utah

Image: Unpredictable Race for Ex-Rep. Chaffetz's Seat in Utah
Jason Chaffetz (AP)

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Monday, 14 August 2017 11:47 PM Current | Bio | Archive

As Republican voters in Utah's 3rd District begin trekking to the polls Tuesday morning, no one is certain who among the three hard-charging candidates will emerge the primary with the GOP standard to succeed former Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz in the special election November 7.

Since the 3rd District was created in 1981, it has sent only one Democrat to the U.S. House. That was the late centrist Democrat Bill Orton, who won the seat in a major upset in 1990. He won two more terms quite convincingly but was finally unseated in 1996.

With Republicans now locked in a primary that can only be called incendiary, there are ominous signs physician and Democratic nominee Kathie Allen could potentially win.

In addition, the fall contest will be complicated by the insurgent candidacy of Jim Bennett, son of the late three-term Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah). The younger Bennett was a "never Trump" Republican last year and his "United Utah" Party qualified for the 3rd District ballot only after a recent court ruling.

As for Republicans, signs are strong that Provo Mayor John Curtis is the favorite among the trio vying in the primary Tuesday. He has raised more than $1 million and has the strong endorsement of Republican Gov. Gary Herbert.

Like most GOP candidates today, Curtis takes conservative positions across the board on fiscal and social issues. However, he is distrusted as an "establishment" candidate by tea party groups and others among the GOP grass roots.

Part of this is due to his blessings from party leaders such as Herbert. But there also is strong resentment to the way that the party ended its decades-old rule at conventions limiting primaries to the candidates who place first or second in the convention balloting.

Curtis came nowhere near the top two, but the change in rules permitted him to advance to the primary.

Both of Curtis' opponents are considered political outsiders and they have significant outside funding. Former State Rep. Chris Herrod has the backing of the political arm of the conservative Club for Growth, which has run an estimated $350,000 in "hit ads" against Curtis. Businessman Tanner Ainge has the backing of Conservative Utah, a SuperPAC primarily funded by his father Danny Ainge (onetime Brigham Young University basketball great and now manager of the Boston Celtics basketball team).

With five of the seven counties in the district already conducting extensive mail campaigns for ballots, no one is calling a winner on Tuesday.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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As Republican voters in Utah's 3rd District begin trekking to the polls Tuesday morning, no one is certain who among the three hard-charging candidates will emerge the primary with the GOP standard to succeed former Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz in the special election...
Chaffetz, seat, Utah, special election
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2017-47-14
Monday, 14 August 2017 11:47 PM
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