PROVO — Rep. John Curtis, the newest member of Utah's all-Republican congressional delegation, appeared to be well on his way to winning his first full term Tuesday night.
Curtis was ahead of his Democratic challenger in the 3rd Congressional District, James Singer, 65 percent to 31 percent, according to unofficial results.
"We are very pleased to have that confirmation from voters that we are on the right track."
Curtis said his first priority is to get successful passage of a public lands bill for Emery County and then to make sure "we get off to a good start with the next Congress."
Curtis was first elected a year ago to fill the remainder of former Rep. Jason Chaffetz's term, after the Republican congressman resigned during his fifth term in office to become a Fox News contributor.
In last year's special election, Curtis first faced two Republicans in a hard-fought, primary that saw nearly $1 million in mostly attack ads aimed at him from out of state before going on to defeat Democratic and United Utah Party candidates.
This year, Curtis also had a primary but easily won with nearly three-quarters of the vote after falling just 12 votes short of being nominated outright at the state GOP convention.
The general election contest between Curtis and Singer, a Salt Lake Community College sociology professor, has been seen as an example of the civility voters should be able to expect from all candidates.
After their debate was declared a "model" by BYU political science professor David Magleby for the type of policy-oriented discussions politicians should be having, Curtis and Singer co-wrote an op-ed for the Deseret News committing to civility.
There were significant differences between Curtis and Singer on a number of issues, including health care. Curtis said the federal government can't afford to cover everyone, but Singer backs a single-payer system.
Curtis has focused on his accomplishments since taking office, including seeing legislation he proposed to study how to prevent opioid abuse by pregnant women signed into law by President Donald Trump as part of a larger package of bills.
Singer, who is Navajo and considers himself a social Democrat along the lines of former Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, emphasized the need to expand the social safety net.
Also on the ballot were United Utah Party candidate Tim Zeidner and American Party candidate Gregory C. Duerden. The 3rd District includes parts of Salt Lake and Utah counties as well as San Juan, Emery, Grand, Carbon and Wasatch counties.