Echoing the Republican primary on the national stage, the number of candidates seeking to fill the gap left behind by Congressman Jason Chaffetz is massive. So far, 22 individuals have put their name in the hat hoping to become the next Utah Congressperson.
Among the crowded contest are 15 Republicans, four Democrats, two independents, and one Libertarian.
Frontrunners in the race so far appear to be Provo Mayor John Curtis and state Senator Deirdre Henderson, both Republicans. Curtis has a reputation as a strong leader after serving eight years as mayor of the state’s third-largest city. Henderson is a traditional small-government Democrat who previously worked for Chaffetz in 2008.
Though the seat seems firmly red, Democrat Kathie Allen also seems to be firmly in the running. So far, Allen has been the major beneficiary of anti-Trump money and has raised more than $550,000 in four months.
Though the race is still early, it would be surprising if it didn’t go the way of so many other recent special elections in which unexpected Democratic support made the race much more competitive than it has been in years’ past.
Though the majority of such special elections with an insurgent Democrat in recent months have still wound up in Republican hands, GOP candidates had to work far harder and spend far more in order to retain their seat.
This is particularly true because the person elected will replace Chaffetz, a particularly public figure in the modern day GOP. Angry anti-Trumpers and members of the resistance will work hard to put a Democrat in the seat previously occupied by a corrupt Republican.
Chaffetz announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking re-election in 2018, citing family concerns as his motivation for stepping down. Though he would not confirm either ambitions or scandal, many suspect that Chaffetz’s exit may be due to 2020 presidential ambitions, or a major scandal which he is trying to hide.
In addition to not running for re-election, Chaffetz has said that he likely won’t finish the entirety of his term, with sources close to the Congressman suggesting that he will leave his seat for a position at Fox News as soon as July of this year.
Though the race to replace Chaffetz is already filled to bursting, more candidates may join the race before the deadline of June 12.