Republican John Curtis has won the special election in Utah’s 3rd district, keeping former Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s seat in GOP hands.
With 55 percent of precincts reporting, Curtis, the popular mayor of Provo, the district’s largest city, had 59 percent of the vote, The Associated Press reported. The other top contenders, Democrat Kathie Allen and Jim Bennett of the United Utah Party, trailed with 26 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan said in a statement Tuesday night that Curtis would be a “valuable addition” to the House Republican Conference. Some members of leadership, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, donated to Curtis’ campaign.
“With Congressman-elect Curtis as a member of our team, we will keep up our push to enact more bold reforms that reduce the size of government, grow the economy, and help middle-class Americans get ahead,” the speaker said.
Curtis’ victory was not a surprise in a district where Republicans account for the majority of registered voters. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated the race Solid Republican. President Donald Trump carried the seat by 24 points last fall, according to Daily Kos Elections, though he did not win a majority.
In Congress, Curtis will likely align with more moderate members of the House Republican Conference. He is also a former Democrat, having once chaired the Utah County Democratic Party. In a recent phone interview, he dismissed a question over whether GOP colleagues would be skeptical of his conservative credentials.
“That was 20 years ago. They all have their own path, right?” Curtis said. “I think it’s more about solving problems.”
Curtis supports the GOP tax overhaul proposal, but would support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and a ban on bump stocks, which turn semi-automatic firearms into automatic ones. He also said he would likely not support a massive wall along the southern border, one of Trump’s central campaign promises.
Curtis said his legislative style would be different from his predecessor, who was in the national spotlight as the onetime chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Chaffetz resigned from Congress in June and is now a Fox News contributor.
“If someone is expecting me to be a Jason clone, they’ll be disappointed,” Curtis said in a recent phone interview.