Brad Wilson to resign as Utah House speaker ahead of likely Senate run

KSL Salt Lake City — Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson announced Monday he will resign from the Utah Legislature as he hints he will run for Mitt Romney’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

Wilson, R-Kaysville, announced an exploratory committee to run for the seat earlier this year.

“Serving in the Utah House of Representatives and as speaker of the House has been the honor, privilege and opportunity of a lifetime — and I don’t say that lightly,” he said. “I did not anticipate the lifelong impact of my decision to run for public office nearly 14 years ago. My service in the Legislature stems far beyond the policies passed and progress achieved. I have built lifelong friendships and come to love and appreciate the people of Utah. I am excited for my next chapter and have full confidence in my peers in the House, Senate and executive branch to continue making Utah the best place to live, learn, work and play.”

Wilson said he will resign effective Nov. 15. The Republican-controlled House will vote to replace Wilson as speaker, with current House Majority Leader Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, the most likely successor.

Schultz confirmed Monday he plans to run for the position of House speaker and will court House Democrats for their support.

“As we … work through some of the biggest issues the state is facing, I want to have some input on that. And I want to be able to lead and bring people together,” he told KSL NewsRadio.

Legislative colleagues and politicians from both major political parties thanked Wilson for his service.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said Wilson “has served Utah with dignity and diligence for the past 14 years and has been an advocate for his constituents and all Utahns. We’re grateful for his commitment and principled leadership, and wish him all the best on his next chapter.”

“For decades, I have had the privilege of calling Brad a friend and a trusted colleague,” Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said in a statement. “It has been an honor serving alongside Speaker Wilson in partnership every day to improve our great state. … I commend him for his service and dedication to the people of Utah. We will miss his presence at the Utah Legislature.”

“We thank Speaker Wilson for his remarkable decadelong commitment to the state Legislature,” said House Minority Whip Jen Dailey-Provost, D-Salt Lake City. “Our caucus anticipates collaborating with him and the entire majority caucus throughout this transition period.”

Utah Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, said, “I want to acknowledge Speaker Wilson’s years of dedicated service to our great state and his significant contributions to the Utah Legislature. It has been a pleasure working alongside him and sponsoring bills together during our time in the Legislature. I commend him for his commitment to the people of Utah and his efforts to find common ground.”

Wilson first joined the Utah House of Representatives in 2011 and assumed the role of speaker in 2019, replacing Greg Hughes, who didn’t run for reelection in 2018.

A news release from the House of Representatives celebrated Wilson’s leadership as Utah was recognized for being “one of the strongest, best managed and most business- and family-friendly states in the nation.” During his time as a representative, Wilson was involved in the relocation of the Utah State Prison, expansion of funding for public education, the creation of a $40 million trust fund to protect the Great Salt Lakeand tax cuts totaling more than $1 billion.

Although Wilson has not formally announced a Senate campaign, the Brad Wilson Exploratory Committee was officially designated as a principal campaign committee on April 13, according to the Federal Election Commission. The campaign has received more than $1 million in donations since that time, and Wilson himself loaned the campaign $1.2 million.

Wilson also teased a “special announcement” to be made next Wednesday.

“It’s time for a conservative fighter in the U.S. Senate,” he posted from his campaign account on the social platform X, formerly Twitter. “Mark your calendar to join Jeni and me on Sept. 27 to get American back on track.”

Wilson’s resignation announcement comes just days after Romney announced he would not seek reelection next year. Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs announced in Maythat he would challenge Romney in a Republican primary.

Tyrone Jensen and Gabriel Stuart Lobo-Blanco have also declared as Republican candidates. Jensen is a self-proclaimed political commentary content creator who briefly ran in the special election to replace former Rep. Chris Stewart in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District. Lobo-Blanco is a data scientist, according to his LinkedIn page.

More candidates are expected to enter the fray following Romney’s announcement, given the rarity of an open race for one of Utah’s two Senate seats.

Rep. John Curtis and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, both Republicans, are reportedly considering it, as are Tim Ballard, the founder and former CEO of Operation Underground Railroad; Carolyn Phippen, executive director of Freedom Front, a Utah-based lobbying group; and Kirk Jowers, CEO and founder of ADDAX and the former director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Attorney General Sean Reyes, Rep. Blake Moore and former House Speaker Greg Hughes have said they don’t plan on running.