Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is reportedly readying a run for U.S. Senate in 2024, targeting the seat currently held by Sen. Mitt Romney. A campaign launch could come in May.
Politico first reported that Reyes has discussed a possible U.S. Senate run with allies of former President Donald Trump in recent weeks. If he does jump into the race it could pit him against Sen. Mitt Romney in a primary battle for the Republican nomination.
Reyes reportedly had a pair of one-on-one meetings with Trump in late 2020. Each time Trump encouraged him to run against Romney, Politico reported.
Reyes’ longtime political consultant Alan Crooks would not confirm or deny any of the reports about Reyes’ future.
“Sean Reyes is well prepared to run for any office he chooses to run for,” Crooks told The Salt Lake Tribune.
News of a possible Reyes campaign caught Utah GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen off guard.
“It seems awfully early. If he does run, it will suck the air out of the room for a while, for sure,” Jorgensen said.
Utah is still in the thick of the 2022 campaign cycle, so Reyes possibly jumping into the 2024 fray may seem premature. He may be attempting to scare away other Republicans who may also be eyeing a run. Jorgensen says he has heard former congressman Jason Chaffetz and Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson may be considering a 2024 campaign.
Wilson says he is flattered to be mentioned as a candidate, but he is not thinking beyond his 2022 re-election bid.
“There are still many things I’d like to accomplish in the House. I’m grateful for the service and representation of Senator Romney and Senator Lee and look forward to continuing to work with them to serve the people of Utah,” Wilson said in a text message.
Chaffetz declined to comment.
On Wednesday, Romney was dismissive of Reyes’ possible entry into the race, telling Politico’s Burgess Everett, “Were I to run again, the best news I could get would be that Sean Reyes was my opponent.”
Matt Waldrip, Romney’s former chief of staff and longtime confidante, was bemused by the speculation surrounding Reyes’ political ambitions and warned the attorney general may be biting off more than he can chew.
“The intoxicating effect of drinking your own Kool-Aid is a marvel to behold. Unfortunately for him [Reyes], the walls talk and the spotlight that he’s gonna draw on himself in this race ain’t gonna be pretty,” Waldrip said.
Reyes backed Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The attorney general traveled to Nevada following the election in search of voter fraud. He also signed on to a last-ditch lawsuit brought by Texas A.G. Ken Paxton seeking to throw out results from several states won by Joe Biden. The Supreme Court threw out that suit.
Reyes ran for Attorney General in 2012, losing the primary election to John Swallow by 36 points. Scandal forced Swallow to resign the following year, and Reyes was selected by the Utah Republican Party’s State Central Committee as Swallow’s replacement. Gov. Gary Herbert appointed Reyes to the position in Dec. 2013.
Reyes won a 2014 election to fill the remainder of Swallow’s term and was re-elected to the post in 2016 and 2020.