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Brad Wilson appears to be withdrawing from the battle for the US Senate

SALT LAKE CITY – As pressure mounts on the Republican primaries for U.S. Senate, one candidate appears to be slowing down.

Multiple sources told KSL that former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson is privately acknowledging the uphill battle he faces — right as voters cast their ballots.

In fact, KSL has learned that Wilson — one of four candidates in the Republican race to replace Sen. Mitt Romney — recently met with campaign staff and acknowledged his likely loss.

According to a recent survey by the Deseret News and Hinckley Institute of Politics, Wilson ranks third, behind Congressman John Curtis and Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, but ahead of businessman Jason Walton.

Now Wilson has stopped buying paid ads, a development first reported by The Salt Lake Tribune. The last time Wilson advertised on KSL TV was May 28, just over two weeks ago.

Wilson’s social media posts have also become much less frequent. His last Facebook post appeared on May 20, almost a month ago.

And when KSL checked Wilson’s website Thursday afternoon, there were no events listed at all for the final weeks of this campaign.

In addition, Wilson’s Provo office — which opened in February — was dark and closed Thursday morning. A source told KSL that the office had been a hive of activity for months, that is, until about the last ten days.

By all accounts, Wilson appears to be in retreat, even though there are almost two weeks left until the June 25 primary.

“It’s a strange time to be doing this,” said Matthew Burbank, a political science professor at the University of Utah. “Usually the only thing motivating that at this point is a really severe lack of money.”

But Wilson raised a lot of money, giving his campaign nearly $3 million out of his own pocket. He also scored many high-profile endorsements from Governor Spencer Cox, lawmakers and local elected officials.

On paper, Burbank said Wilson “looked like a very strong candidate” when he entered the race last year. But in a crowded field, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives struggled to stand out.

“Especially when John Curtis entered the race,” Burbank said, “it changed his trajectory.”

KSL reached out to Wilson’s campaign, which pushed back against the idea of ​​him throwing in the towel.

“These are nothing more than baseless rumors,” Gabby Wiggins, Wilson’s press secretary, said in a statement. “This type of speculation is not helpful to Utah voters who are faced with making important choices about who will represent their values ​​in Washington, DC. Brad Wilson remains the best choice to get our country back on track and our team is proud of the hard work we have done over the past several months to spread our message to voters across the state.”

The campaign’s Provo office will be used “as needed,” Wiggins added, and no one on the campaign staff has been fired.

Wilson isn’t the first Utah House speaker to try for higher office. Others before him – including Greg Hughes, David Clark and Marty Stephens – have failed to convert that position into a senior role.

In this race, Burbank said, some other candidates have made it a challenge for Wilson. That includes Curtis – who has a strong name and has attracted a lot of outside spending from political action committees – and Staggs – the Republican Convention winner who received the support of former President Donald Trump.

For Wilson, Burbank said, “he really couldn’t carve out a path that was entirely his own.”

Wilson took part in a debate between the four Republican Senate candidates earlier this week. He was then asked by a reporter what would happen if he was not chosen to represent Utah in Washington.

“My campaign has always been — and it will continue to be — that we need to bring good, common-sense Utah solutions back to Washington,” Wilson responded, touting his leadership experience and support from other elected officials. “I’ll be sorry if I don’t succeed, but I’m still optimistic.”

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