Utah Republicans divided in battle for Chaffetz's House seat

Live Election Results: Republican Primary in Utah's Third Congressional District

John Curtis, the Provo mayor, won the GOP primary special election Tuesday night and will face off against Democrat Kathie Allen, and third-party candidate Jim Bennett, son of the late GOP Sen.

With 77 percent of precincts reporting, Curtis had 41 percent of the vote, The Associated Press reported.

Provo Mayor John Curtis declares victory in the GOP primary to replace Jason Chaffetz. Chaffetz represented the district until June when he abruptly resigned, citing a desire to spend more time with family.

This is one of seven special elections to take place this year to fill vacant seats in the House and the Senate. Chaffetz is now a FOX News Channel commentator. Curtis later switched back to the GOP before another run in 2007; his mayoral post is nonpartisan.

Tanner Ainge, the Sarah Palin-endorsed son of Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge, said he voted for Trump because he always votes for the Republican candidate in presidential elections. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who also attended a rally for Herrod in Utah.

Chris Herrod: With endorsements from U.S. Sens. -Mexican border and repeal the Affordable Care Act. Only registered Republicans are eligible to vote in the race, but Utah County elections officials mistakenly sent congressional ballots to unaffiliated voters as well.

"I've got a message to those PACs in Washington, D.C. and those special interests: This is my town, this is my district. Go home; you wasted your money".

Gov. Gary Herbert introduced presumptive nominee John Curtis to a hotel ballroom full of exuberant supporters in downtown Provo shortly after he was declared the victor of the race.

"It was Utah-based, Utah-principled, Utah-endorsed".

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Curtis sought to play off the attacks, casting them as desperate ploys from outside agitators and setting up a website to offer a detailed rebuttal of their claims. "I do think the negative ads overplayed the hand that they were dealt".

While polling has shown a clear front-runner in the race, recent surveys have suggested a tightening contest.

Curtis has said he had a "fling on the dark side", but noted that Ronald Reagan, Trump and Chaffetz were all Democrats at one point.

"There are a lot of good Democrats in the past", said Muir, a longtime Republican.

Utah County, which encompasses 60% of the population of the 3rd Congressional District, is expected to provide more complete numbers on Friday when provisional ballots and remaining mail-in ballot results are released.

Several hundred GOP delegates backed Herrod, which allowed him to advance to the primary election.

Allen issued a statement congratulating Curtis on his win, and said her campaign has focused on staying positive.

The victor of Tuesday's GOP primary is expected to cruise to victory in November's special election in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats five-to-one.

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