KAYSVILLE, Utah – An informative and recurring series is set to be published every Friday, where I will partake in insightful discussions with various elected officials and prominent figures from the state of Utah. Through these conversations, I intend to explore the core of their roles, shedding light on the significant responsibilities and duties that come with public office.
Throughout this series, we will also delve into their viewpoints on critical issues affecting their constituents and the efforts they have made to address these concerns and promote advancement within their communities.
In this week’s edition, I had the opportunity to converse with Brad Wilson, the Speaker of Utah’s House of Representatives and a potential 2024 U.S. Senate candidate.
Rep. Wilson identifies as a ‘strong’ conservative and has been a member of the Utah legislature since 2010, marking his initial election to the Utah House of Representatives. His constituency encompasses a portion of Davis County, which comprises sections of Kaysville, Layton, and all of Antelope Island.
Wilson obtained a business degree from Weber State University before venturing into politics. Initially, he embarked on a career in financial services but later transitioned to real estate, co-founding Newtown Development alongside his business partner. Together, they specialize in the development of both commercial and residential properties.
In April, Wilson initiated an exploratory committee to consider running for the Senate seat presently occupied by Mitt Romney in the 2024 election. His committee has successfully gathered more than $2.2 million in funds, and he has been traveling across the state, promoting the widespread backing he has garnered for his potential candidacy.
Wilson has not yet made an official announcement regarding his candidacy for the 2024 Senate election. However, he did share some reasons for his interest in challenging Romney, who has also not officially declared his intention to run for re-election.
“We don’t know exactly who all will be in this race, so really right now it isn’t about me versus any one candidate,” Wilson said. “What this is about was me going out and learning what Utahns were looking for in their next US senator.”
“What I’ve heard is what I thought I would hear, and I’ve heard them say that they really love living in Utah and they would like Utah to send its best ideas back to D.C.,” Wilson said of his exploratory committee. “They want Washington D.C. to be a lot more like Utah, and they would like to have a conservative fighter back in D.C. to represent this state.”
Wilson mentioned that people in Utah have expressed frustration with politicians in the Capital due to their lack of fiscal responsibility, which has subsequently led to high inflation rates across the country.
“One of the things that I’m hearing over and over again from Utahns is that they’re so frustrated with D.C. about the really, really terrible impact that inflation is having on their everyday lives,” Wilson explained. “Inflation has been directly caused by decisions made in D.C., and the reckless spending that’s occurred in D.C. And that’s one of the things that if I’m elected I want to help change. We’ve got to spend differently.”
Wilson compared the spending of the federal government to the spending of Utah, which consistently maintains a budget surplus.
“In almost any metric you look at, Utah is the best run state in the country, and the most fiscally prepared state in the country for any difficulties, and our country is not being run that way right now,” Wilson explained. “It’s no secret it’s about spending. It’s not about revenue. It’s if you can control your spending, and D.C. can’t while we can.”
Wilson also compared the political climates of Utah and D.C., which if elected, he hopes to bring more bipartisanship into the Senate chamber.
“In a lot of ways Utah is the model for the rest of the country. We have our differences, but for example, around 90% of the bills we pass in the Utah legislature pass with bipartisan support,” Wilson explained. “Even at times when we have difficult issues, for the most part, we get through those things where people listen to each other and try to understand each other’s perspectives.”
“Unfortunately, in D.C., that’s not the case, and we have some real problems back there. And I would say the first big problem is there isn’t enough listening in-between parties,” Wilson said. “I would say that another one of the big challenges that we have in DC is that this hyper-partisan focus and reckless spending has created all kinds of problems in this country that’s permeating our culture. Our current politicians are not making it any better, and they’re not trying to solve the real problems of the day.”
As it currently stands, if Wilson is elected to the Senate he will be operating in a Republican minority, a drastically different political landscape than Utah, where Republicans control the House, Senate, and Governor’s office. Knowing this, Wilson mentioned that he is willing and ready to cooperate with the Democrat majority in the Senate.
“Even in Utah where we have a Republican majority you still have to bring your colleagues along with you. And one of the skills that I have, and I’ve had as a lawmaker, and I’ve had as the speaker is that you learn how to put in place good ideas and bring coalitions together and get support for the best ideas, and the process is the process,” Wilson explained.
“You’ve got to follow the process in terms of getting legislation approved, but that is a skill that I think I have, and you have to work harder when you’re in the minority. I get that but it doesn’t mean you can’t be effective.”
If elected to the Senate, in addition to increasing bipartisanship and lowering inflation, Wilson will prioritize limiting the overreach of the federal government in several areas, including regulatory practices in energy policies as well as everyday life.
“The challenges that we have in this state with a lack of understanding from the federal government, on how our energy policy in this state works, and the overreach that’s happening in terms of regulation, that’s going to drive our energy prices higher here and make our energy less affordable and less reliable, is very problematic, and that needs to be addressed at a federal level,” Wilson said.
“The list just goes on and on about how intrusive the federal government is into Utah lives, and the most important thing that I would say about my perspective on D.C., and how I would go back and represent Utah, is to get Washington D.C. out of the lives of Utahns as much as I can. Every day it seems like D.C. becomes more and more involved in our day-to-day lives. And that is not the way it’s supposed to be.”
Wilson also touched on what he believes to be the biggest issues facing the U.S. today.
“The federal debt is one of the biggest issues for sure. And our ability as a country to defend ourselves is a big problem,” Wilson said. “We can’t manage our budget, our defenses as a country are getting weaker and weaker.”
“We’re spending our money on things that our government was never meant to be spending money on. We’ve got to get our fiscal house in order. We’ve got to get our defense budgets back in line. And we’ve got to get the government out of the lives everyday lives of Americans and Utahns.”
In addition to preparing for a potential Senate run, Wilson is also preparing for Utah’s House upcoming legislative session. As the leader of the House, Wilson has an extremely busy schedule.
“It’s everything from reviewing the policies that we’re going to be discussing that day and the next day, what are the more controversial issues that need to be reviewed? How do we iron out disagreements?” Wilson said of an average day as speaker when the House is in session. “I’m making sure that everything is running smoothly, and the bills are flowing through the process the way they should be flowing.”
Wilson also explained the process of how bills are prioritized or presented to be voted on.
“It’s interesting, I don’t really do very much of that at all. Our process does it, we have a rules committee that decides, and I delegate that authority to the rules chair and the rules committee, and they decide which bills go to which committees, and then those committees do their work,” Wilson said.
“That’s where the heavy lifting occurs in the legislature is in our committees. And if a bill survives a committee then it comes to the House floor. It’s really rare that I intervene, and I don’t send a bill to the rules committee. Occasionally, I’ll slow something down until there’s some problems that are worked out, but I usually, in fact, I almost always let the process be the process.”
As Wilson assumes a leadership role in the Utah legislature, he has several vitally important responsibilities to best govern the state.
“Well, at the end of the day, when I think about a legislative session, what matters to me the most is did the legislature address the biggest needs and challenges and opportunities the state has at that moment in time?” Wilson said.
“We have a 45-day window every year to take and move the needle on the biggest things in the state, and so how do we take advantage of that, and move the needle forward on the biggest issues?”
While Wilson has received tremendous support for his potential Senate bid in 2024, he has yet to make a concrete decision, and his future as the leader in the House sways in the balance.
“We’ll make that decision in the Fall,” Wilson said when asked if he would step down as Speaker of the House if he officially declares his Senate candidacy. “We had tremendous support this last quarter, we more than doubled our expectations in terms of fundraising support in the second quarter and if that support continues, I’d say it’s highly likely that we will announce a full campaign sometime later this fall. And then we’ll make a decision about whether I can balance both roles or not.”