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Though candidates have until June 12 to gather signatures to qualify for the primary race for Rep. Jason Chaffetz's spot in Utah's 3rd congressional district, one candidate got out ahead of his opponents Monday by completing the task a week before deadline.
Tanner Ainge became the first candidate to qualify for the Republican primary by collecting signatures from registered Republicans in each of the district's seven counties: Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Salt Lake, Utah and Wasatch.
Ainge is "incredibly proud of this achievement," he said in a news release from his campaign, adding that while others balked at the requirement to get 7,000 signatures in "such a short window," he and his team "decided to get working right away and made this goal our sole focus for the past two weeks."
Though he is "confident that today's submission will secure a spot on the Aug. 15 ballot," Ainge said his campaign will not stop gathering signatures until it receives confirmation from Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox that it has met or exceeded the threshold.
"I am eager to now focus on the important issues facing our country and introducing myself and my conservative principles and positions to the people of this district," Ainge said. "Today is only the start."
Ainge will not formally participate in the state convention later this month, the release said, but he plans to "reach out to the delegates who comprise a large group of informed, motivated and principled voters in the election."
Though Ainge is generally considered a newcomer to politics, his father, Danny Ainge, is general manager of the NBA's Boston Celtics. That name gives Tanner Ainge widespread recognition throughout the state because of his father's nationally notable career at BYU.
Tanner Ainge's experience in politics is limited to a one-year stint volunteering in the campaign finance arm of Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential bid, according to his online profile. He works as a Utah County investment adviser.
Twenty other candidates are vying for Chaffetz's spot, with Provo Mayor John Curtis and state Sen. Deidre Henderson standing out as strong candidates from the GOP, according to Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics. Although the district is reliably red, Perry acknowledged that Democrat Kathie Allen could also be a contender.