Former Alaska Gov. and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin got involved in the race to fill Jason Chaffetz’s Utah congressional seat Thursday, endorsing Tanner Ainge in the Republican primary.
Ainge has a law degree and has worked for private equity companies, but has not held elected office. Palin said she was impressed that he “isn’t a career politician!” and described him as a “sharp businessman.”
Ainge’s father, Danny Ainge, played 14 seasons in the NBA, and won championships in 1984 and 1986 with the Boston Celtics. He is now the Celtics’ general manager. He is a Utah legend for leading Brigham Young University to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight in 1981.
Palin, herself a former basketball player, used a basketball metaphor in announcing her support, saying, “He knows how to run the ball down the court with focus and purpose, and not waste time playing today’s political games.”
Chaffetz unexpectedly announced his resignation in the middle of his term, saying “the time has come to move on,” before becoming a Fox News contributor on July 1, the day after his resignation went into effect.
That set off a contentious Republican race, with Provo Mayor John Curtis and former Utah lawmaker Chris Herrod also running in the August 15 primary. The district, Utah’s 3rd, is rated Safe Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, meaning the primary will likely determine who will serve in Congress.
The winner will face Democrat Kathie Allen, a physician, in the November special election.