It was last August that then-Provo Mayor John Curtis beat former state Rep. Chris Herrod in a special 3rd Congressional District GOP primary.
Tuesday night, it was the same result – although now-U.S. Rep. Curtis really squashed Herrod this time.
Curtis lead Herrod about 75 percent to 25 percent on Tuesday evening.
In fact, Herrod called Curtis to concede and congratulate him just after the polls closed at 8 p.m.
The final tally won’t come for several weeks, when the official canvass is certified by the state.
In August 2017, it was a three-way race – Curtis, Herrod and Tanner Ainge.
Tuesday it was just Curtis and Herrod – but the result is the same: Curtis will move on to the November final election where, unless something really, really strange happens, he will win a whole two-year term to the House.
Curtis told UtahPolicy Tuesday night – as he drove to the Salt Lake airport to take a redeye to D.C. for votes Wednesday: “We’ve had a great six months” in office “with an impressive track record.”
That’s the reason, he says, for his big win over Herrod in his second showing.
He credited his office team for much of his victory.
“We have great outreach,” said Curtis. “Great constituency services. People like what they see.”
Like last year, Curtis clearly saw the Republican Party primary as the real race – the general election a foregone conclusion.
Curtis raised $1.2 million over the last year and spent $1.1 million. He only has $47,787 in cash, but the ability, of course, to raise what he needs for the final election.
Herrod raised considerably less money this time around – no doubt because he fared poorly in the state GOP convention and various polls, including UtahPolicy.com’s Dan Jones & Associates surveys, showed him well behind Curtis in this repeat match-up.
Hard to raise funds in a primary when you’re looking like a loser.
The latest poll by Jones found Curtis 47 percentage points ahead of Herrod, 65-18 percent among likely GOP voters, with 17 percent undecided.
Clearly, Tuesday Curtis got most of those undecideds for a 50-point win.
Under SB54’s dual pathway for candidates law, both this year and last Curtis gathered the 7,000 GOP voter signatures needed to make the primary.
Last year, Curtis was eliminated in the special 3rd District GOP delegate convention. But he got on the ballot via signatures.
Herrod won the convention last year, getting on the primary ballot that way.
However, this spring – with a new crop of 3rd District GOP delegates – Curtis barely fell short of eliminating Herrod in convention, getting 59 percent to Herrod’s 40 percent. Herrod, a die-hard anti-SB54 advocate, didn’t collect signatures and needed to stay alive in convention to make the primary.
It takes 60 percent of delegates to win at convention.
Herrod basically ran a campaign this year of saying he is more conservative than Curtis – or the real Utah conservative.
It’s true that Herrod is more conservative – maybe even an ultra-conservative.
Curtis, especially as mayor, was well-liked in part because he was reasonable and tried to work out compromises in governing Provo City.
Herrod got some outside support last year from various national archconservative groups and individuals.
That money didn’t come into this year’s primary, in part because Curtis is now an incumbent Republican who in his brief voting record in Congress has not angered some of those right-wing groups.
You also don’t get a lot of national attention if you are 47 points down in the polls.
Tuesday makes it five straight elections that Herrod has lost, since leaving the Utah House back in 2012.
Curtis now faces Democrat James Courage Singer, United Utah Party candidate Melanie McCoard, and Independent American Party candidate Gregory C. Duerden in November’s final election.
The 3rd District, which includes the east sides of Utah and Salt Lake counties as well as southeastern Utah, is heavily Republican. No Democrat has won there since the early 1990s.