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Candidates plunge into widening pool to replace Chaffetz

First Published      Last Updated May 23 2017 09:01 pm

3rd District » Independent, Democrats, Republicans jump in — and race begins.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz's shocking announcement that he would not seek re-election triggered a tidal wave among Republicans — and tremors with Democrats — clambering to fill the unexpectedly open seat.

Now that the congressman has announced his June 30 departure date, plenty of those testing the waters have jumped into the race.

"Let the games begin," Chaffetz jokingly said during his news conference Thursday.

The field of potential candidates is wide: Seven dashed to declare their intentions Friday — the first day of filing for the special election — though just two submitted their paperwork. Three more continue to waver on potential bids. And three have withdrawn their names from consideration.


• State Sen. Deidre Henderson — Among the most anticipated — and favored — Republicans to officially join the race for Chaffetz's seat, Henderson previously worked for the congressman when he was first elected in 2008. She volunteered to answer phones for Chaffetz's campaign and later worked as his political director, "running things from a makeshift headquarters in my laundry room." Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, announced her bid Friday with kind words for her former boss: Chaffetz is one of "the hardest working, constituent-driven officeholders I know." Also a friend and ally of Rep. Mia Love, Henderson is working with one of Utah's most prominent campaign strategists, Dave Hansen. In the past, she has been somewhat critical of President Donald Trump and said "he won't have a more vocal critic" if he falls out of line with the wishes of her constituents. Her platforms align with Trump's, she notes, in tax reform and returning power to the states. Henderson, a 5-year Senate veteran and small-business owner, also champions economic opportunities and mobility. The mother of five launched her campaign "to stop preaching and start practicing."

• Kathryn Allen — The first-time Democratic candidate has a good chance of making the Nov. 7 general-election ballot after amassing a surprising haul of donations for her bid: about $550,000 in three months, most from folks donating no more than $200. Allen's campaign went viral in March after Chaffetz appeared on national television and remarked that "rather than get that new iPhone," low-income Americans may have to prioritize spending on health care. The 63-year-old physician and resident of Cottonwood Heights condemns the GOP overhaul of Obamacare and looks to "restore faith in Congress." "I think people underestimate me and underestimate other Democrats," she has said.

• State Rep. Brad Daw — As the first Republican to file in the special election, Daw is eager to run on a platform that includes more individual choice in health-care coverage and more state control for Utah's public lands. In announcing his bid, Daw, R-Orem, promised to hold true to the principles of "limited government, the sanctity of family and the protection of our God-given rights as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution."

• State Sen. Margaret Dayton — The Orem Republican and homemaker is running on a "conservative first" platform. She served in the Utah House for 10 years and started her current tenure with the Senate in 2007.

• Others include: American Fork lawyer and Republican Damian Kidd, first-time progressive candidate Ben Frank and Democratic activist Carl Ingwell.


• Provo Mayor John Curtis — When Chaffetz announced Thursday that he'd step down from office June 30, Curtis remained hesitant to say he'd join the race. "I'm not yet ready to say, 'Yes. I'm in,'" he said. Curtis, who's finishing his eighth year as mayor and will not seek re-election, is popular among Provo residents and an early favorite among Republicans.

• Former state Rep. Chris Herrod — Now a real-estate agent in Provo, Herrod served for five years as a Republican in Utah's House of Representatives, where he made his mark as one of the most outspoken critics of illegal immigration. He launched — and lost — subsequent bids to unseat U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch and, later, state Sen. Curt Bramble. He bills himself an "unconventional conservative."

• Others include: Tanner Ainge, Alpine resident and son of NBA legend and Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge, who tweeted that Tanner would make a great candidate.


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