Republican voters will choose a Republican candidate for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District race during a special primary election on Aug. 15 for the vacancy left by former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, whose resignation became effective June 30.
From left: Mayor John Curtis, Tanner Ainge and Chris Herrod speak at the 3rd Congressional District Republican debate in Provo, July 28. The special election Republican primary will take place Aug. 15. (Dani Jardine)
The three-way race pits Provo mayor John Curtis against former Utah lawmaker Chris Herrod and newcomer Tanner Ainge. The three, all BYU alumni, are competing to represent the Republican Party on the final ballot in November. Herrod was selected by delegates to the Republican Party convention in June. Ainge and Curtis both qualified to be on the ballot by collecting signatures.
The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic candidate Kathie Allen, Libertarian candidate Joe Buchman, Independent American Party candidate Jason Christensen and unaffiliated candidate Sean Whalen in the Nov. 7 election.
Voters must register by Aug. 8, either in-person or online, to vote in the primary. Only registered Republicans can participate in choosing the Republican candidate, even though many non-affiliated Utah County voters were erroneously mailed ballots.
Salt Lake, Utah, Wasatch, Grand and San Juan counties will conduct the primary entirely through the mail, while Carbon and Emery counties will use in-person voting, according to a document published by the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office. This is the first time in Utah history that a member of Congress has resigned and left a vacancy, according to the document.
The Universe gathered candidates’ positions by compiling phone interviews from the candidates. Some responses are supplemented by information on the candidates’ websites and from the candidates’ most recent debate.
What are your top three policy priorities?
Ainge for Congress
Tanner Ainge is running as a Republican candidate for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District race during a special primary election on Aug. 15. Ainge said he wants to cut spending levels and reduce the national debt. (Tanner Ainge)
Cut spending levels and reduce the national debt. “For me, that is a moral issue … there will be a day of reckoning,” he said. “I don’t want it to come in my lifetime or in my kids’ lifetime, and there’s things we can do now to get us back on track.”
Reduce regulation on business. “The Obama-era regulations are crushing entrepreneurs and small businesses,” he said. “We need to lift that burden so that entrepreneurs and the private sector can thrive and create more opportunities for everyone.”
Continue to resist and reduce the expansion of the federal government. “(I will) return as much power and funds and resources back to the state level, which is the proper place for it,” he said.
Mayor John Curtis is running as a Republican candidate for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District race during a special primary election on Aug. 15. Curtis said he wants to resolve states’ rights issues. (John Curtis)
Provide answers to health care. “The answer will come with more portability, flexibility, and transparency,” according to a statement on Curtis’ campaign website.
Deal with the fiscal mismanagement and put us on a better track financially. “As a businessman responsible for tens of millions in sales and hundreds of employees, I know how to create a budget and stick to it by making cuts if necessary,” according a statement on to his website.
Resolve states’ rights issues, particularly as it relates to land and Bears Ears National Monument. “I am committed to working with our federal delegation to overhaul the current broken and politicized process and find a path to protect our natural beauty with transparency and key shareholder involvement,” according to a statement on his website.
Chris Herrod for Congress
Chris Herrod is running as a Republican candidate for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District race during a special primary election on Aug. 15. He said he wants to restore the original intent of the U.S. Constitution. (Chris Herrod)
Restore the original intent of the U.S. Constitution. “If it’s not in Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, then Congress shouldn’t be doing it,” he said. “One of my biggest priorities (is) to shift as much power back to the states as we can.” Herrod said the presidency and executive branch have been given too much rule-making authority, and he would like to get rid of the Antiquities Act to address this concern.
Bring an international perspective. Herrod said he spent over five years studying and teaching internationally. “I’m greatly concerned about the problems in the Middle East,” he said. “We don’t seem to understand Islam and the problems and that we’re going to get caught up in endless wars in that part.”
Bring “economic sanity” to Congress. “(I will focus on) reigning in the budgets (and) dealing with entitlement reform so that our children are not burdened with this monstrous debt,” he said.
As a representative, how would you address Obamacare?
Ainge said Obamacare has been a “total failure,” and it needs to be repealed and replaced.
“We were told we could keep our same doctor, but that didn’t happen,” he said. “We were told we could keep our same plan, and that didn’t happen. And we were told costs would go down but our premiums have skyrocketed.”
Ainge said more choice and competition is needed in the health care marketplace.
“(This) will come by free market principles and not through government mandate,” he said.
Curtis said Obamacare needs to be repealed.
“The hard part is what we need to do next,” he said. “(We need to be) moving forward in a way that actually lowers health care costs and moves us to a stronger free market system and at the same time making sure that it provides that critical safety net for those that are most in need.”
Curtis’ website states the U.S. has not had a free market health care system in decades.
“Government involvement and regulation has distorted the market for a very long time, and it is unrealistic to say we are going to roll everything back in the next four years,” according a statement on to his website. “It is time Congress got past trying to score political points and on to meaningful solutions for everyday Americans.”
Herrod said he would repeal Obamacare and start over.
“I’m a big believer in health savings accounts,” he said. “You need to have the safety of a catastrophic plan, but I want to be able to pick and choose my doctors, shop around. So that’s what needs to be done, is to make sure that we allow consumer’s choice.”
He said Obamacare has taken away choices, limiting consumers’ options to just one provider in some places, and soon there will be some places with no providers.
“That’s what happens when you take away individuals’ ability to choose,” he said.
He also said at the very least people need to be able to sign up for the “catastrophic plans” and not the “Cadillac plan.”
What is your policy approach to illegal immigration?
Ainge said his illegal immigration plan starts with securing the borders.
“It’s a national security issue. We can’t have those that would seek to harm us, terrorist organizations or drug cartels, coming up through a porous border,” he said.
The second step in his plan is to enforce the laws.
“We can’t have people just living in the shadows,” Ainge said. “We need to be a country of law and order.”
He also said a healthy immigration process is needed “so that those who want to work here and be self-sufficient here and build their lives here can find a way of doing so” — including those who attend American universities and can contribute to the economy.
Curtis said his illegal immigration policy consists of four parts: strengthening and securing the borders, being tough on hardened criminals who are here illegally and who commit serious crimes, implementing reforms, and providing restitution.
“We need to reform the system so that those who are waiting to come into our country legally and are qualified people that we would love to have here are able to apply and come over here legally,” Curtis said. “Those who are here illegally need to be shown how they can earn their way to be here legally.”
According to his website, “our policies should be humane and reflect a spirit of inclusion toward our immigrant neighbors.”
Herrod said his proposition is to allow illegal immigrants to come forward, put up a bond, put their affairs in order for up to six months, then go home with the bond they have secured.
He said his plan would include waiving penalties if people have overstayed their visas (which prevent their return for a certain amount of time) if they follow Herrod’s proposed plan.
“They cannot go to the front of the line, but they can immediately get in line,” he said.
Herrod said there are many victims of illegal immigration.
“The middle class, the working class, has been greatly hurt by downward pressure on wages,” he said. “(Legal) immigrants are (also) hurt because they have to wait 20 years to bring family, and then everybody butts in front of the line — and that’s simply not fair.”
He said illegal immigrants themselves are victims because of “what they go through to get here — whether it’s the rape trees on the southern border or getting caught up in human trafficking.”
He said he is against amnesty, and those who want to come to the U.S. need to understand they can only do so if they “come the right way, the front door.” He wrote a book on the topic: “The Forgotten Immigrant: How Tolerating Illegal Immigration Hurts Immigrants.”
Do you think that global warming justifies governmental action, even if such action would have an impact on the economy?
Ainge said though there is scientific evidence of global warming, the predicted models are very imprecise in forecasting the impact of legislation today.
“Meanwhile, the negative impacts on the economy, on people’s’ opportunities, are immediately recognizable,” he said. “We need to be very careful in any government action.”
During Friday night’s debate, Ainge said he supported President Trump for withdrawing from the Paris Accord.
Curtis said global warming is a “false narrative” people base their decisions on. He said he prefers to look at the issues in terms of doing the right thing.
“Here in Provo, we haven’t talked about global warming, but we have talked about personal stewardship, personal responsibility and what is the right thing to do,” he said.
During Friday night’s debate, Curtis also said he supported President Trump for withdrawing from the Paris Accord.
Herrod said rational intervention is needed, which he said has not happened.
“The way that Europe has met many of its requirements is it’s just pushed business to third world countries where they’ve actually added more to the CO2 output,” he said. He also said the U.S. should do everything it can to keep industries in the country because the U.S. is more efficient than China in steel production and producing electricity per CO2 output.
He said he supports President Trump for pulling out of the Paris Accord “simply because people are doing (it) for political reasons and not to help the environment. It’s simply a redistribution of wealth.”
Tanner Ainge owns a consulting firm and advises small businesses. Ainge, a lawyer and businessman, has experience in private equity, mergers and acquisitions, and serving as general counsel for a public health care company.
Ainge worked on Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign. As a BYU student, he started a non-profit organization to help impoverished persons in Africa.
Ainge is the son of former BYU basketball player Danny Ainge. Ainge majored in international studies and has a law degree from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. He also studied Mandarin Chinese through a program at Cornell University. Ainge served an LDS mission in West Africa and currently resides in Alpine.
John Curtis is the mayor of Provo City. He worked as chief operations officer at a Provo company that makes shooting range equipment. Before that, his business experience was in sales and management.
Under Curtis’ tenure as mayor, he worked to make Provo a Google Fiber city, increase airport activity and revitalize downtown Provo.
Curtis earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from BYU in 1985. Curtis served an LDS mission in Tawain and currently resides in Provo.
Chris Herrod served in the Utah House of Representatives from 2007-2012. He has also been involved in real estate in recent years. Herrod has lived overseas to work in business and education for over five years, including in the former Soviet Union.
Herrod served as the Utah Director of the 2016 Ted Cruz campaign. He ran for U.S. Senate in 2012 against incumbent Orrin Hatch, losing in the primary. He also challenged incumbent Utah State Senator Curt Bramble for Utah State Senate District 16 in 2016. In 2009, he helped found the Patrick Henry Caucus to focus on states’ rights.
Herrod lists on his website the many op-ed pieces he has written. Herrod earned a bachelors’ degree in international relations and family living from BYU in 1990 and earned a master’s degree in organizational behavior from BYU in 1992. Herrod served an LDS mission in Sweden currently resides in Provo.