Mike Kennedy kicks off primary race against Mitt Romney

Apr 27, 2018, 11:12 PM | Updated: Apr 28, 2018, 1:06 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s a Utah political story that made national headlines: Mitt Romney failing to get the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate race to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch and being forced into a primary runoff.

The former presidential candidate will face state lawmaker Mike Kennedy in the Republican primary election on June 26.

Mike Kennedy, 49, speaks to a backyard gathering supporters about his U.S. Senate campaign.

During a primary campaign kickoff event in the backyard of his Alpine home, Kennedy answered questions from an audience of supporters.

“They’re looking for an alternative,” Rep. Kennedy said of potential voters. “I’m somebody who’s from Utah. I understand the place. I’ve lived here. I’ve worked here. I’ve raised my family and I’ve built my business here.”

The 49-year-old says he would bring a unique skillset to Congress.

“I’m an attorney; I’m a doctor; I’ve been a state legislator as well,” the father of eight children said.

Senate candidate Mike Kennedy launched his GOP primary campaign in the backyard of his Alpine home.

“I tell all my patients about Mike,” said Cheryl Lee Eberting, a dermatologist from Alpine, who attended Friday evening’s campaign event. “If they want change to happen, especially in health care, they should vote for Mike.”

“He’s not good; he’s great,” said Dianne Waters, who works in the office at Kennedy’s medical office. “He’s very humble, and he’s honest, and he’s just good man.”

At last weekend’s Utah Republican convention, delegates narrowly chose Kennedy over Romney, which set the stage for a primary battle.

Romney, 71, is credited with overhauling Salt Lake City’s 2002 Winter Olympic Games and is nationally known as a former governor and presidential candidate. But Kennedy says his outside status is appealing to Utahns.

Related: Mitt Romney credits 2002 Utah Olympics for his political career

“They’re looking for an alternative,” Mike Kennedy said of potential voters who are supporting him.

“The more people you know in Washington the more people you owe in Washington,” Kennedy said. “I don’t know anybody in Washington, and I don’t owe them anything either.”

National publications have highlighted that in 1994, Romney ran for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts and lost to the late Ted Kennedy. But the Kennedy in this race reminds that he doesn’t have any relation to that Kennedy political dynasty.

“A conservative Kennedy is like a plaid zebra,” he quipped, “you’re not going to see it very often.”

The winner of this GOP primary race will likely face Democrat Jenny Wilson on the November ballot.

KSL 5 TV Live

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Mike Kennedy kicks off primary race against Mitt Romney