EXCLUSIVE: Primary Rival Tells RedState His Campaign Prompted Romney to Retire

LM Otero

The mayor of Riverton, Utah, running for the 2024 Republican Senate nomination, told RedState that he was thrilled but not surprised by the news his rival, Sen. W. Mitt Romney, decided to return to private life. 

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“It feels great,” said Trent Staggs, who has been the Riverton mayor for 10 years.

“I think our messaging is really resonating with folks,” he said. "We've picked up such great support and a strong coalition in the state, and I am sure that was noticed by Mitt Romney and led to his decision.”

The mayor said the mood of the state’s voters has turned against Romney.

“It's been three to four months now since we announced, and as we've been touring the state and talking to so many conservatives and so many other elected officials here locally,” he said.

“They expressed just the dissatisfaction with the representation or lack thereof they were getting from Senator Romney,” he said.

Staggs noted the one issue that voters always bring up to him is the runaway federal spending.

“Without a doubt, it's spending, it's the size, scope, burden of the federal government that can take a number of different shapes, but spending at the top of the list,” he said.

“Mitt Romney’s voting record and support for higher spending--it's led to this just crushing inflation that so many are feeling,” he said.

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“Another reason why so many just feel misrepresented by Mitt Romney—he doesn't really encapsulate the values and the principles that Utahans have, and that's what they're looking for as somebody who is authentically Utah and consistently conservative,” Staggs said. 

Embracing the news that House Republicans have begun the formal impeachment process against President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Staggs said if he were sitting in the Senate, he would welcome Biden's impeachment trial.

“One hundred percent,” he said. “We've seen such a miscarriage of justice that's gone on here with respect to the persecution of Donald Trump, and we need to be able to go after true corruption.”

The evidence of the president’s corruption is overwhelming, he said.

“This Biden administration, I think, has demonstrated that, and we need to definitely hold him accountable.”

In his video announcing his decision, the senator touted his role in passing higher spending bills, like Biden's $1 trillion infrastructure bill, along with legislation restricting gun rights and reducing congressional scrutiny of Electoral College results.

Romney threw shade on his fellow elders when he said he was getting too old for the job.

“I've spent my last 25 years in public service of one kind or another,” he said. “At the end of another term, I'd be in my mid-80s; frankly, it's time for a new generation of leaders.”

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The former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital investment banker also took shots at President Donald J. Trump and Biden.

“Neither President Biden nor former President Trump are leading their party to confront those issues on deficits and debt,” he said. 

“Both men refuse to address entitlements even though they know that this represents two-thirds of federal spending,” he said. 

Romney’s stepping away from public life comes less than four months after another member of the state’s Capitol Hill delegation made the same decision. Republican Rep. Chris Stewart, who flew B-1 Lancers in the Air Force, announced he was resigning from his seat to care for his wife. 

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