In a surprise win, former state lawmaker Chris Herrod won the Republican nomination to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz of the 3rd Congressional District.
Herrod gained 55 percent of the vote after five tedious rounds of voting at Timpview High School in Provo on Saturday. Nearly 800 state delegates attended the special convention.
Herrod beat out 10 other conservatives vying for the nomination to replace Chaffetz, who’ll be resigning his seat on June 30.
“I’ve always been comfortable with being the underdog; when you’re fencing, you’ll actually like that position, and so, sometimes people get disarmed with my smile and [don't] think that I am a competitor,” he said. “But those that know me know I like to compete.”
A real estate developer, Herrod represented Provo in the Utah House from 2007 through 2012. He challenged Sen. Orrin Hatch in the 2012 primary but was defeated at convention. More recently, he coordinated Ted Cruz’s Utah campaign in 2016.
Herrod’s victory was seen by Utah’s political observers as something of an upset. He beat out two staunchly conservative female state lawmakers, senators Deidre Henderson and Margaret Dayton, in a nail biting final round vote.
Henderson, who once served as Jason Chaffetz’s campaign manager, said she was proud of the campaign she ran, despite some negativity directed toward her. She said she doesn't think gender played a role.
“I would like to think not,” she said. "You know, I took a lot of arrows in this race and I'm proud of the fact that we didn't attack back, and that we stayed positive with a forward thinking message — and the delegates made their decisions."
Chris Herrod will now face two other Republicans, Provo Mayor John Curtis and investment adviser Tanner Ainge, in the GOP primary on August 15.
Both Curtis and Ainge qualified for the ballot by gathering more than 7,000 signatures to bypass the convention system.