SALT LAKE CITY — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the winner of Utah's GOP presidential caucus vote last year, will be in Utah on July 29 to rally for 3rd Congressional District Republican primary candidate Chris Herrod.
"We are very excited about him coming. I think it shows they think I am a very credible candidate," said Herrod, a former state lawmaker who served as Cruz's Utah presidential campaign coordinator.
Herrod is in a three-way Republican primary race with Provo Mayor John Curtis and Alpine lawyer Tanner Ainge for the seat in Congress that had been held by Jason Chaffetz, who stepped down June 30 and is now a contributor to Fox News.
Details of Cruz's visit have not yet been announced, but Herrod said the GOP senator is expected to hold an afternoon rally for his special primary election campaign that will be open to the public.
In March 2016, Cruz easily beat both Ohio Gov. John Kasich and now-President Donald Trump in the state Republican Party's caucus election, with nearly 70 percent of the vote.
Cruz is especially popular "with the conservative wing of the party, and that's usually who comes out and votes," Herrod said, crediting the senator with helping him secure financial support from the Senate Conservative Fund.
Ainge announced he has been endorsed by five Republican state lawmakers in the 3rd District, which includes portions of Salt Lake and Utah counties, as well as Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan and Wasatch counties.
"I'm thrilled to have the support of these great legislators in my district. They work hard to balance the budget in our state and keep taxes low. I will take the same core principles to Washington, D.C.," Ainge said in a statement.
State Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, said he decided to endorse Ainge because "he's much more conservative than the uber-right give him credit for. He's also very pragmatic."
Anderegg said some voters may have been put off by Ainge choosing to gather voter signatures for a place on the Aug. 15 Republican primary ballot rather that compete for the support of party delegates at a special 3rd District convention.
Herrod won the delegate nomination over a crowded field that included Curtis, who had already qualified for the primary ballot by also taking the signature gathering route.
The other GOP state lawmakers in the 3rd District backing Ainge are Sen. Dan Hemmert of Orem; Rep. Marc Roberts of Salem; Rep. Norm Thurston of Provo; and Rep. Tim Quinn of Heber.
"I have known Tanner for many years," Roberts said in a statement. "He is someone with a strong work ethic and integrity. Among our three candidates in the Republican primary, Tanner is the best choice."