SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- (ABC4 Utah) – It’s decision day for Republican voters in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District. The GOP primary is drawing attention at home and across the country.
Jason Perry, the Director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics says there are two big things we will learn from the results.
“We will be able to see the impact of negative campaigning, maybe not from the candidates necessarily, but from outside groups,” said Perry.
And, how mainstream Republicans in the 3rd District view their candidates.
“Do they like the candidates that are coming out of convention, do they like the other kind of candidates that are coming forward?”
Former State Representative Chris Herrod came out of convention with the delegate vote.
He’s also been the beneficiary of some of the super PAC spending, billing him as the only candidate with a true conservative record.
His biggest endorsement comes from Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who easily won Utah’s Republican presidential primary in 2016.
“When 80% of Americans don’t trust their elected leaders to do what they say they are going to do, I think that’s a problem, I think it’s dangerous actually. And, I have actually done what I said I was going to do,” said Herrod.
Provo Mayor John Curtis has been endorsed by Utah Governor Gary Herbert.
He’s been targeted heavily by outside money. Super PACs have questioned Curtis for raising taxes, and for once being a member of the Democratic Party.
Curtis says his record as a successful business owner and mayor speaks for itself.
“I’ve never changed my principles, they’ve always been the same. And, if you look at how we’ve governed Provo, you’ll see a real strong conservative record as well,” said Curtis.
Curtis lost at convention, but gathered signatures to get on the ballot.
Newcomer, Tanner Ainge also gathered signatures, but skipped convention all together.
Conservative Utah super PAC has raised nearly $300,000 to support Ainge. Most of that comes from his parents, who live in Boston, Ma.
Ainge says his experience in private equity and venture capital investments gives him an edge at cutting Washington spending.
“I’ve had to evaluate companies of all shapes and sizes, and go through their industries, and identify trends and go through their financial statements to identify waste and where to balance the budgets,” said Ainge.
Ainge has been endorsed by a handful of state legislators, but according to the polls is running in last place.
The latest Utah Policy poll, from last Thursday has Curtis ahead of Herrod by eight points, with 26% of voters still undecided.
Perry says in the final hours it’s a two person race between Curtis and Herrod.
“We’ve seen John Curtis stay pretty high in the polls by comparison, but that gap has closed with those undecideds kind of finding their candidates. Which means, today this race is too close to call going into it. It all depends on the turn out,” Perry said.
This is a reliably red district, so whoever walks way with the Republican nomination is expected to win big in November, 2017.