Utah GOP faithful backs ex-legislator for Chaffetz’s seat

Former Utah lawmaker Chris Herrod, speaks with delegates before start of a 2017 special convention Saturday in Provo, Utah. Herrod won the vote of about 800 state Republican delegates in a race to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz in Congress, advancing to an August primary election. (AP photo)

By MICHELLE L. PRICE

Associated Press

PROVO, Utah — About 800 members of Utah’s GOP on Saturday picked a former state legislator as their preferred candidate to compete in a special election to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who is resigning at the end of the month.

Chaffetz’s decision to step down left an enticing open seat that attracted 12 Republicans, including state lawmakers, political activists, lawyers and others to compete in what’s considered one of the most conservative congressional districts in the country.

Chris Herrod, who won the vote of the nearly 800 GOP delegates at a convention in the city of Provo, will advance to a primary election in August, where he’ll will face two candidates who gathered voter signatures in order to get on the ballot: John Curtis, the popular mayor of Provo, and Tanner Ainge, a consulting firm owner and son of Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge.

Herrod, a home loan officer in Provo, served in Utah’s Legislature for five years beginning in 2007, unsuccessfully challenged Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch in 2012 and worked on Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign last year.

Herrod was one of the only candidates on Saturday to mention of an issue dominating Washington — the widening probe into Russia’s election meddling and possible ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.