Utah GOP delegates pick candidate to replace Congressman Jason Chaffetz

PROVO -- Utah Republican Party delegates nominated Chris Herrod as their candidate to replace resigning Congressman Jason Chaffetz.

The former state lawmaker won in a stunning upset on Saturday, besting Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, after five rounds of voting. By the end of the afternoon, Herrod obtained 415 votes over Henderson's 338.

Herrod, one of the most conservative candidates on the ballot, described himself as a "platform Republican. " He received an endorsement Saturday afternoon from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. (Herrod ran his presidential campaign last year.)

Chris Herrod speaks with reporters after his upset victory at the Utah GOP nominating convention on June 17, 2017. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

"The Republicans have been given in congress a unique opportunity to have the presidency and the House and the Senate. I think they're squandering that," he told reporters. "I'll go back and remind them they've got to get to work."

Herrod will now go on to face Provo Mayor John Curtis and Tanner Ainge in the Republican primary in August. Both Curtis and Ainge had previously gathered signatures, securing themselves a spot on the ballot.

"We're really excited for the next phase," Curtis told FOX 13. "We've known all along that the next phase is my strength. We're looking forward to getting the message out and letting people know what we'd like to accomplish."

At a special nominating convention on Saturday at Timpview High School, 794 of the 1,100 delegates voted on 11 candidates who touted their conservative credentials to delegates in the 3rd Congressional District.

Provo Mayor John Curtis speaks to a delegate at the Utah GOP special nominating convention. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

In speeches, the candidates all sought to portray themselves as battling Washington, D.C., despite the GOP controlling all branches of government. Only party activist Debbie Aldrich endorsed President Trump, and Henderson only spoke of working with Congressman Chaffetz.

Ainge was a no-show, having previously gathered signatures. He posted on Twitter about moving ahead to the primary election.

In the first round of voting, Shayne Row, Keith Kuder and Aldrich were eliminated. As the day stretched on, GOP delegates voted overwhelmingly to skip rounds of speeches to keep voting.

Chaffetz is leaving office at the end of this month. He previously has said he was having a little bit of a "midlife crisis" and wanted to spend more time with his family.

The Utah GOP is deep in debt and couldn't afford to put on Saturday's convention. Chaffetz paid for it out of his own pocket. Newly-elected party chairman Rob Anderson said the party is about $400,000 in debt right now.

They passed cans around at Saturday's convention and raised a little over $3,500.