Here's what's at stake at GOP, Democratic nominating conventions this weekend

Signs displaying county names stand during the Utah Republican Party Organizing Convention at Utah Valley University in Orem on April 22, 2023. Here's what is at stake during Saturday's GOP and Democratic state conventions.

Signs displaying county names stand during the Utah Republican Party Organizing Convention at Utah Valley University in Orem on April 22, 2023. Here's what is at stake during Saturday's GOP and Democratic state conventions. (Ryan Sun, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Saturday will mark the end of the road for some candidates' election hopes as thousands of Republican and Democratic delegates convene to select party nominees for federal, statewide and statehouse races.

State election law provides two paths to the primary ballot for each party: winning at least 40% of the vote from delegates at convention or collecting a certain number of verified signatures from registered voters within the district. Because of this, several of the high-profile races in this year's election — including for vacant seats for U.S. Senate and the 3rd Congressional District — won't be decided Saturday as multiple candidates have already qualified for the June 25 primary.

But for the candidates who decided to take the convention-only route or failed to qualify by collecting signatures, the conventions present win or go home stakes.

Delegates — who are selected during neighborhood caucuses to represent their precincts — traditionally lean more conservative than the general Republican electorate, and often reward candidates who eschew signature gathering in favor of appealing to the convention crowd. Candidates who win at convention aren't guaranteed to win during the primary — and the statewide electorate can lean toward more moderate options — but convention winners often represent the base of the GOP.

The Republican delegates will also vote on a resolution calling for the state to employ an independently elected secretary of state, rather than electing the lieutenant governor as the state's top election official. The resolution says the change is proposed in part "due to GOP voter distrust of election integrity."

US Senate

Senators are up for election every six years, and because incumbents often seek reelection, a truly open Senate race can be a generational opportunity for politicians. That's the case this year, as Sen. Mitt Romney's announcement he would not seek reelection has prompted nearly a dozen Republicans to throw their hats into the ring.

Three Republican candidates have already qualified for a primary election, guaranteeing the race for the GOP's nomination will extend by several months, but several candidates have also staked their hopes on the delegates on Saturday, and at least two more could advance.


Qualified for primary:

  • Businessman Jason Walton is one of the three candidates who has qualified for the primary, meaning he will advance regardless of what happens Saturday. Walton is the founder and CEO of Moxie Pest Control and is making his initial foray into politics.
  • Former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson has also qualified for the primary and has performed well with delegates — winning straw polls in a handful of county conventions. Wilson served in the state Legislature for nearly 14 years and is the CEO of Newtown Development.
  • Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, has been in Congress since 2017, after serving as mayor of Provo. During previous campaigns, Curtis has been defeated twice at convention, but went on to easily win the GOP primary for his seat in the 3rd District.

Have yet to qualify for primary:

  • Brent Hatch, the son of late Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is a newcomer to electoral politics, but has spent time in Washington as an associate White House counsel for President George H.W. Bush and a law clerk to former Judge Robert H. Bork. Hatch is a signature-gathering candidate, but only has 19,397 verified signatures, according to the Lieutenant Governor's Office, of the 28,000 required to qualify for the primary.
  • Jeremy Lewis Friedbaum is an authorized partner for, according to his Facebook page, and is a staunch supporter of the convention system and an advocate for the repeal of the state law creating the dual path to the ballot. He is a convention-only candidate.
  • Brian Jenkins describes himself as a "local celebrity" who looks like President Abraham Lincoln. Jenkins declared the intent to gather signatures but has not turned in any valid signatures, according to election officials.
  • Accountant Josh Randall has also opted for the convention route and has prided himself on running a grassroots campaign he says will free him from being tied to special interest groups.
  • Carolyn Phippen, a former staffer to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah and leader of Freedom Front of Utah, is competing at convention only. Phippen previously ran for a seat in the Utah House of Representatives in 2022.
  • Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs was the first Republican to enter the race, before it became clear Romney wouldn't run again. Staggs has earned endorsements from several national conservative figures and has performed well in straw polls at GOP county conventions. He is a convention-only candidate.
  • Chandler Tanner, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Bookroo, declared his intent to gather signatures, but has not turned in any verified ballot petitions.


Three Democrats are vying for the party's nomination on Saturday: professional ski mountaineer Caroline Gleich, children's book author and illustrator Laird Fetzer-Hamblin and former Orem City Council candidate Archie Williams III. None of the candidates have collected signatures, and the winner on Saturday will advance to the November general election.

1st Congressional District

Incumbent Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, has qualified for the primary ballot and faces challenges from fellow Republicans Paul Miller and Derek Draper — both of whom will need support from delegates to advance. Businessman Bill Campbell is the only Democrat in the race.

2nd Congressional District

Rep. Celeste Maloy, R-Utah, was only elected to her seat in the 2nd District last fall during a special election and has opted to forgo signatures during her first reelection bid. Maloy's two Republican challengers — political commentator Ty Jensen and former Army Special Forces Green Beret Col. Colby Jenkins — are also just competing at convention. Rocky Mountain Renewable Energy CEO Brian Adams is the only Democrat vying for the seat.

3rd Congressional District

With Curtis' decision to seek Romney's soon-to-be vacated seat, the 3rd District seat he is vacating is another of the most closely watched races this election cycle and has drawn a significant crowd of contenders. Four Republicans have qualified for the primary by collecting signatures.


Qualified for primary:

  • Stewart Peay, an Iraq War veteran and former Utah County Republican Party chairman, earned the endorsement of former Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, and has already punched his ticket to the primary.
  • State Auditor John Dougall is not seeking reelection to the statewide office he has served in since 2013 to run for Curtis' seat in Congress.
  • Case Lawrence, the founder and former CEO at CircusTrix, a trampoline company, teaches at BYU's Marriott School of Business and serves on the President's Leadership Council at the university.
  • Roosevelt Mayor JR Bird initially campaigned for Utah's U.S. Senate seat before pivoting to the 3rd District race. He is the founder of Paragon Oilfield Products.

Competing at convention:

  • Former state Rep. Chris Herrod has challenged Curtis in previous elections and beat the incumbent at convention in 2022. Herrod opted to compete at convention only.
  • Zac Wilson is the chairman of the Utah Young Republicans and is a contention-only candidate.
  • State Sen. Mike Kennedy challenged Romney in the race for U.S. Senate in 2018. He opted not to collect signatures and compete at convention only.
  • Kathryn Dahlin, a former U.S. Senate aide and GOP delegate, chose to collect signatures but fell short of the 7,000 signatures necessary.
  • Lucky Bovo also filed as a signature-gathering candidate but has yet to turn in any verified petitions.

Glenn Wright, an Air Force veteran who served a pair of tours in the Vietnam War, is the sole Democrat in the race.

4th Congressional District

Incumbent Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, is unchallenged in the Republican Party. Graphic designer Katrina Fallick-Wang and Jonathan Lopez are competing at convention for the Democratic nomination.


Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson are seeking another term in office and are the only Republican candidates to have qualified for the primary election by collecting signatures. Four GOP challengers — state Rep. Phil Lyman, former Utah GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen, Marine Corps Artillery Officer Scott Robbins and Sylvia Fisk — must earn at least 40% of the vote on Saturday in order to advance.

Jorgensen on Thursday named Corinne Johnson, co-founder and president of the conservative group Utah Parents United, as his running mate.

State Rep. Brian King is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Attorney general

This is another open seat that has drawn significant interest after embattled Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said he would not run again. Derek Brown, a former Utah Republican Party chairman, is the only candidate to have qualified for the primary election, while Republicans Trent Christensen, Frank Mylar and Rachel Terry are counting on delegates.

Rudy Bautista and David Carlson are the Democratic convention candidates.

State treasurer

State Treasurer Marlo Oaks is running unopposed for the Republican nomination, and will face former state Rep. Neil Hansen, the only Democrat in the race, in the general election.

State auditor

Weber County Auditor Ricky Hatch and Tina Cannon, senior policy adviser to the state auditor, are both taking the convention-only path as Republican candidates for the position soon to be vacated by Dougall. Accountant Catherine Voutaz is running unopposed as a Democrat.

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Bridger Beal-Cvetko covers Utah politics, Salt Lake County communities and breaking news for He is a graduate of Utah Valley University.


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