Rand Paul endorses GOP Utah Senate candidate to replace Romney, says he's the 'type of Republican' needed

A Utah Senate candidate who vowed to “push back against the establishment” if he’s elected has earned the support of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who said he is the “type of Republican” needed in the upper chamber to replace retiring GOP Sen. Mitt Romney.

Paul endorsed Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs on Thursday, backing a man who gained notoriety in 2020 for his opposition to mask mandates amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“In 2024, Utah will elect a Republican no matter what. It’s about what type of Republican,” Paul said in a statement shared with Fox News Digital.

“We need someone who will stand with myself and Mike Lee defending the Constitution. We need a Republican who will stand against reckless spending and endless war. I enthusiastically endorse Trent Staggs because he is that type of Republican,” Paul added.


Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul “enthusiastically” endorsed Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs in the Utah Senate race to replace retiring Sen. Mitt Romney. (Getty Images | Trent Staggs campaign)

Describing Paul as a “constant champion” of conservative principles, Staggs – who also landed former President Trump’s endorsement last month – said he appreciated the Kentucky senator’s support.

“Rand Paul has been a constant champion of liberty and small government. I’m honored to have his support,” Staggs told Fox News Digital. “I look forward to joining him in fighting big government and pursuing an America First agenda in the Senate.”

Staggs announced his decision to enter the race last spring, prior to Romney’s announcement that he would retire from the chamber at the end of his term next year.

“I love my children, and I’m worried about the country they will inherit if I sit on the sidelines,” Staggs told Fox News Digital at the time. “For too long, we’ve allowed government bureaucrats to spend away the next generation’s future, and we need more voices willing to push back.”

Mitt Romney fits in the Senate much better than I do. We’ve elected far too many people who ‘fit in’ in Washington. I’m not going to Washington to make friends, I’m going to make change,” he added.

Romney, who won the GOP nomination for president in 2012 and was later defeated by Barack Obama, announced in September that he would not be seeking a second term in the Senate.

In March, during a town hall event at Riverton High School, Staggs discussed the endorsements his campaign has received and insisted those that have endorsed him have the energy he hopes to “emulate” if he’s elected.

“I’m not just somebody going out there trying to pick up any old endorsement,” Staggs said at the time, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “These are intentional. These are folks that I want to be able to say I’m going to emulate their type of fire and energy and ability to push back against the establishment.”


Staggs, who announced his candidacy in the Utah Senate race last spring, was endorsed by former President Trump last month. (Trent Staggs)

Trump praised Staggs as someone committed to the “Make America Great Again” movement, in his endorsement post on Truth Social.

“Trent Staggs is 100% MAGA, and is running to fill The Mitt Romney, a Total Loser, Seat as the next Senator from the Great State of Utah,” Trump wrote at the time. “A Highly Successful Entrepreneur, who has served brilliantly as Mayor of Riverton for the past six years, Trent knows how to Create Jobs, Stop Inflation, Grow the Economy, and Secure the Border.”

“As your next Senator, Trent will help us Unleash American Energy, Support our Military/Vets, and Protect our always under siege Second Amendment,” he added. “Trent Staggs has my Complete and Total Endorsement – He will be a GREAT Senator, and never let you down!”

Staggs was one of the first candidates to pose a potential challenge to Romney and has since picked up endorsements from several other prominent Republicans, including Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, among others.

He has also received the backing of Utah’s largest police union – the Utah Fraternal Order of Police, which labeled Staggs “a longtime supporter of law enforcement and specifically the FOP.”

Though the state’s primary election isn’t until June 25, when voters will get to voice their opinion on the nominee, the Utah Republican Party selected Staggs as its nominee to replace Romney last month during a state convention.

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs addresses delegates at the Utah Republican Party Convention on April 27, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum)

Staggs is one of a handful of Republicans seeking the party’s nomination. Others who are seeking to replace Romney in the Senate include more moderate candidates like Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, current Utah Rep. John Curtis, and businessman Jason Walton.

The winner of the Republican primary election will go on to the state’s general election, where the GOP nominee is likely to defeat Democrat nominee Caroline Gleich and other independent or write-in candidates. No Democrat has won statewide office in Utah since 1996.

Kyle Morris covers politics for Fox News. Story tips can be sent via email and on X: @RealKyleMorris.

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