Tempers flare in final minute of Utah Senate debate

Jun 11, 2024, 11:59 AM | Updated: 1:02 pm

Utah senate debate...

Congressman John Curtis (left) Draper Mayor Trent Staggs(AP/Deseret News)

(AP/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY— The debate between four candidates running for Utah’s soon-to-be open Senate seat stayed mostly cordial Monday. At least until the final minute and a half.

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs was the last of the four candidates to give a final minute of closing remarks. Congressman John Curtis, former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson and Jason Walton had already given theirs.

Staggs’ closing remark began with, “On March 4 of 2020, Abbott Laboratories was awarded a federal grant—on that same day John Curtis purchased stock in that company,” he said.

Once Staggs finished his remarks, Curtis told the moderator, who tried to wrap up the hour-long debate, “You have to let me respond to that.” The moderator granted his request.

Curtis then said, “Trent, that is such a low shot. You wait till I have no response you throw something out I can’t respond to.”

He continued, “You’ve accused me of a felony here tonight. You better have very good evidence and I’d like to challenge you to produce that evidence.”

Curtis ended his response to Staggs saying, “If that’s how you’re going to work in [the] Senate, the people of Utah would be very disappointed.”

The debate then concluded.

After the Utah Senate debate

All four candidates did individual Q&A with members of the media following Monday night’s debate.

When Staggs took the stage, he stood by what he said in his closing remarks about Curtis. “It’s a factual statement,” Staggs told media members.

Additionally, Staggs said he did not directly accuse Curtis of committing a felony. He also said Curtis shouldn’t have been allowed to respond after he gave his closing remarks.

Staggs said he believed Congress members and their families should be banned from purchasing stocks.

When Curtis took the mic, he said Staggs, “clearly waited until there was no rebuttal to throw something at me that of course had no foundation.” Curtis also called Staggs’ statement about him, “a cheap shot.”

“I feel like Utahns got a really good look into what they would get if [Staggs] was their senator,” Curtis said. “I don’t think that’s what they want.”

You can find a full recap of Monday’s debate here.

Related: Four candidates go head-to-head in the GOP Senate Primary Debate

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Tempers flare in final minute of Utah Senate debate