Republican candidate and businessman Tanner Ainge captured a surprising endorsement Thursday in the race to replace former Rep. Jason Chaffetz: the support of 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
“Ainge will be an impactful leader because he knows how to run the ball down the court with focus and purpose, and not waste time playing today’s political games,” said Palin, former Alaska governor, in a statement. “I’m happy to support candidates like Tanner Ainge who aren’t afraid to break the mold and are committed to working for your success.”
It’s the first big national name for Ainge to boast. His other props have come from a handful of state lawmakers, including Sens. Jake Anderegg, Howard Stephenson and Dan Hemmert, and Rep. Marc Roberts.
His two conservative rivals have meanwhile landed large endorsements in the abbreviated special election. Former state Rep. Chris Herrod has the support of U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. And Provo Mayor John Curtis bagged rare pre-primary backing from Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.
Ainge, who’s a political newcomer, said he’s “honored” to have Palin’s support. “She recognizes if we are going to get serious about cutting spending, curbing regulations and balancing the budget, we have to have someone in Washington who can actually get these things accomplished,” he said in response.
Palin touted Ainge’s fiscal conservatism and called him a “patriot who exudes common sense.” She praised him for backing efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare and standing up for states’ rights.
The winner in the Aug. 15 Republican primary will face Democrat Kathie Allen in the November general election, as well as a handful of independent and minor party candidates.