The race to replace Romney and young adult involvement


Since Sen. Romney addressed Utah on Sept. 13, several candidates announced official campaigns for U.S. Senate, causing young adults to evaluate how they distinguish same-party candidates.

Brad Wilson, Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives, announced his intention to run in a conference Wednesday, Sept. 27.

In an X post, Wilson reiterated his message that Utah needs a strong political fighter.

“I’m running for United States Senate because our nation is at a crossroads and we need a fearless conservative fighter with the backbone to get things done,” Wilson said. “We need a bold, proven leader with the guts to turn this country around and light the path to a brighter future.”

Representative John Curtis, who was rumored to run for U.S. Senate, announced in a Deseret News OP-ED that he will not be seeking reelection.

“When I ran for my House seat, I made a commitment to the residents of the 3rd District,” Curtis said. “We’ve accomplished a lot but my work for them is not done. I believe we need elected leaders who are more concerned about doing their job than getting the next job. To walk away now would leave a commitment unfilled. I want to finish the job.”

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs is actively promoting his campaign on social media. In a statement on X, Staggs launched his campaign donation site and stressed the importance of replacing Romney with an “America First” candidate.

“I am grateful for the support I’ve received and continue to,” Staggs said. “We can do this.”

Political Commentator and state Rep. Tyrone Jensen and CEO Gabriel Lobo-Blanco have also added their names to the ballot.

“I am pleased to announce that I am resuming my bid for Utah’s United States Senate Seat in 2024,” Jensen said in a statement on X.

Lobo-Blanco announced his candidacy on Facebook on June 13.

“I know this is a bold move, but I figured I can’t keep waiting for (someone else) to do it,” Lobo-Blanco said.

These candidacy announcements come after Mitt Romney announced he will not be running for reelection.

In his Sept. 13 press release, Romney called for a new generation of leaders to enter government service.

“Frankly, its time for a new generation of leaders,” Romney said. “They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”

As more candidates announce their intention to run for Senate, former and current BYU students look to distinguish between candidates and make informed choices.

BYU alumna Sicily Stanton said she believes being informed on each candidate can help students be more confident in their political choices, especially as many Republican Party candidates compete for the same seat.

“Read as much as you can,” Stanton said. “Political involvement comes after being educated. Go to candidate’s websites. Read about them. Understand what each politician stands for.”

This graphic shows current Utah candidates for U.S. Senate. Clockwise from top right: Tyrone Jensen, Brad Wilson, Gabriel Lobo-Blanco and Trent Staggs. (Belle Lewis)

Junior political science student Kiani Kalander agreed understanding candidates’ positions is important.

“A lot of times candidates are reduced to their side of the aisle,” Kalander said. “Look at (candidates) both publicly and privately. It is important to look at moral character.”

Political science professor and faculty advisor to the BYU College Democrats Darren Hawkins said he understands political activity is difficult for students.

“How do you find the motivation to do that?” Hawkins said. “(Students) don’t pay as many taxes yet; they do not own property for the most part. And they don’t have ties to the local community that are strong. So, it is hard.”

To facilitate student involvement, Hawkins suggested voting fairs.

“(BYU used) to bring candidates to campus and let them set up booths,” Hawkins said. “I would love to see BYU do this again.”

Hawkins continued to say student-candidate events help connect students and facilitate better political connections.

“People from time to time ask, why does politics have a place at BYU?” Hawkins said. “But politics is essential to the human condition. And politics can be beautiful and noble as well. Constitutional government is absolutely something worth promoting, preserving and defending vigorously.”

Young adults like Stanton and Kalander look forward to the new generation of leaders called on by Romney to create a more open political space.

“We don’t need to be one extreme side or another,” Stanton said.

Kalander said she looks for politicians to find objective solutions and compromise.

“(They) need to have skin in the game.” Kalander said. “(Romney is calling on candidates) who will be around long enough to see results of actions.”

As more candidates announce their intent to run for Senate, students and professors agree young adults should be educated and participate in the political process.

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