Candidate Trent Staggs blames the Democrats, the Republicans of the establishment, for what ails Washington

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Editor’s Note: KSL.com is running stories on the four Republican candidates in the June 25 primary seeking to replace Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. Today a look at Trent Staggs. Jason Walton was seen on Tuesday; John Curtis on Wednesday; and Brad Wilson on Thursday.

RIVERTON — “Trent Staggs is 100% MAGA and wants to fill The Mitt Romney, a total loser, seat as the next Senator from the Great State of Utah! A highly successful entrepreneur, who has served brilliantly as Mayor of Riverton for the past For six years, Trent has managed to create jobs, stop inflation, grow the economy and secure the borders.

“As your next Senator, Trent will help us unleash America’s energy, support our military/veterinarians, and protect our ever-beleaguered Second Amendment. Trent Staggs has my complete and total endorsement – ​​he will be a GREAT Senator and will never let you down. !”

That’s how former President Donald Trump threw his support behind Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs’ U.S. Senate campaign in a surprise post on Truth Social just hours before the start of Utah’s GOP nominating convention on April 27 in Salt Lake City. Staggs, a self-proclaimed “America First” candidate, went on to easily win the delegate vote with nearly 70% support.

Trump’s statement likely gave the Staggs campaign a big boost heading into the convention, but Staggs is confident he would have won even without the former president’s support. He has long tried to appeal to the Trump wing of the Republican Party, betting his entire campaign on the roughly four thousand delegates. He decided not to collect signatures to qualify for the June 25 primary, so a loss at the convention would have meant a defeat. end of its run.

Although Staggs prevailed, three opponents qualified for the primaries, forcing Staggs to deliver his message to Republican voters at large. Staggs often paints a bleak portrait of the current state of affairs in the country, blaming both Democrats and what he calls “establishment” Republicans — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is a frequent target of his ire — for the national debt and other issues.

Staggs was greeted at the convention with a chorus of cheers, proclaiming that “this American dream is in danger for my children and yours.”

“Enough is enough,” he said.

First into the breach

It’s been over a year since Staggs declared her candidacy on May 23, 2023. Although one of his eventual opponents opened an exploratory committee the month before, Riverton’s mayor was the first to officially enter the race, at a time when it was still tense. It’s unclear whether Romney would seek another term — something Staggs brings up often.

“We wanted to pre-elect Mitt Romney,” Staggs told KSL.com at a candidate barbecue in a Taylorsville park last week. “The goal was to come out and say we don’t believe we’re going to get the representation that Utah needs through Mitt Romney. So we wanted to be able to paint that contrast.”

From the start, Staggs positioned himself as a Trump-centric candidate running against Romney — who he sees as the embodiment of the Republican “establishment” — a tactic that caught the attention of national conservative news outlets like Fox News and Newsmax.

For Staggs, his early entry is also unique in the race; an act of “courage,” as he calls it, to take on a well-known incumbent president.

“That was really the differentiator, that was one of the main reasons why I demonstrated my ability to take on the Utah establishment,” he said.

Although Romney declined to seek another term, Staggs still regularly focuses his campaign messages on the outgoing senator and tries to cast his opponents as cut from the same cloth.

Staggs’ message

Trump is far from the only prominent national Republican to support Staggs’ campaign. The mayor is endorsed by conservative radio personality Mark Levin, Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake, and has held rallies and town halls in Utah with Sens. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, and conservative activist Charlie Kirk.

A few rallies before the convention filled high school auditoriums with delegates and other supporters, many of whom wore “Make America Great Again” hats or shirts bearing the former president’s mugshot.

Staggs discusses a plethora of issues in his stump speeches, including seemingly niche topics such as the rules of Senate procedure, which are received with enthusiasm by his supporters.

Staggs also takes stands on larger issues. He has called for defunding the FBI, cutting funding to the United Nations and Ukraine, and has said prisoners who entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, should be released. He believes that life begins at conception, but also describes himself as a “federalist.” That’s why he’s open — but not committed — to a national 15-week abortion ban.

Alisha Staggs, his wife, said she is impressed by the scope of Staggs’ message every time he takes the stage, and said the couple’s two children, 14 and 12, are well aware of how many supporters he has.

“It’s fun for them to see him on stage and see him speak,” she said. “And we’re very proud of him every time he speaks. It’s not the same message that he portrays. I walk away from there in awe of how well he carries himself.”

Staggs has been in politics most of his children’s lives, so he said they are fairly used to city parades and the other spectacle that comes with elected office. Although the Senate campaign is the biggest stage he has had yet, it is just another day in the lives of his children.

“He’s Wearing This Thing”

Staggs typically adopts an uncompromising tone on the campaign trail and rejects the idea that bipartisanship is inherently a good idea. He is not opposed to working with Democrats on issues where there is common ground, but primarily trusts Republicans to recapture all major branches of government to push his agenda through.

While liberal or moderate Utahns may not like the positions he takes on many issues, he said, “I think it will really benefit the entire state.”

He fondly remembers getting a text from his campaign manager around 5:30 a.m. on the morning of the Republican convention telling him to “pick up the phone on the next call.” He and the former president spoke only briefly, but Staggs said Trump’s “full endorsement” reassured him that he would have people to work with in Washington.

“I think in order to communicate that to the people of Utah, that I have his phone number, I have a relationship” with Trump, Staggs said. “He has supported me, I have supported him wholeheartedly. We will be able to work together. … I have a coalition of support that no one else has in this race. So that will allow me to represent Utah .” at a level that I don’t think anyone else in this race can do and that we have been able to do in recent years.”

Alisha Staggs said she initially couldn’t believe her husband was being endorsed by Trump, but admitted she was concerned “because I know people either love him or hate him.”

“All I said is, ‘As long as you lead with God, it doesn’t matter. It will work out exactly the way it should,'” she said. “It’s fantastic to have an endorsement from Trump, but it’s really him. He carries this whole thing.”