Brad Wilson has filed as a candidate for US Senate but calls it an exploratory committee

Jul 11, 2023, 7:30 PM

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson is pictured speaking. House Speaker Brad Wilson has filed as a candi...

House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, gives his speech during the opening day of the Utah Legislature's 2023 session at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. On Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, Wilson announced he will seek the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY  — House Speaker Brad Wilson has filed as a candidate to run for the U.S. Senate, but called his campaign the “Brad Wilson Exploratory Committee,” he told KSL NewsRadio.

Political experts consider the move a reporting timeline tactic, not a violation of FEC rules.

Wilson announced this morning he’s raised over $2 million for his “exploratory committee,” with $1.2 million coming in the form of a personal loan. Another $1,018, 586 came largely from Utah donors,” he said.

When an actual exploratory committee raises over $5,000, the Federal Elections Commission requires that they file as an official candidate to continue collecting donations. Exploratory committees also have other campaigning restrictions.

When questioned on whether the money he raised meant he had to submit the July 15 filing, Wilson said that he filed as a candidate but called it an “exploratory committee.”

“We created an exploratory committee under the framework of being a candidate, so we don’t actually have to do anything by the 15th,” he said.

But he did not say this means he was running. 

“All we will do in the fall if we choose to run a full campaign is we will go into the [FEC] and we will change the name of the committee to a full campaign,” he said.

The money he’s raised could be seen as a sign that he has support, and Wilson signaled as much.

“The financial support, the grassroots support from around the state has been overwhelming … if that continues the likelihood of us launching a full campaign is extremely high.”

Wilson was also asked why he would file as an actual candidate if he didn’t intend to run. 

“We are taking it very seriously,” he said. “And are very encouraged by what we’re hearing, but the primary election is still a long ways away.”

If he doesn’t run, he says everyone who’s donated to his “exploratory committee” will be fully refunded.

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs has also announced he will run for the U.S. Senate to represent Utah. 

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Brad Wilson has filed as a candidate for US Senate but calls it an exploratory committee