SALT LAKE CITY — Congressman-elect John Curtis said he'll be casting his first votes on behalf of the 3rd District as soon as he's sworn in Monday.
The Republican told the Deseret News on Wednesday that once he takes the oath administered by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., "immediately I'll be asked to take a seat and start voting, which is overwhelming."
Curtis said he plans to arrive in Washington, D.C., on Friday with his family in preparation for what is anticipated to be a 6 p.m. Monday ceremony, preceded by a reception.
Shortly before the ceremony, Curtis is expected to resign as mayor of Provo. City ordinances call for City Council Chairman Dave Sewell to act as mayor until the council appoints an interim mayor to serve through the end of the year.
That will likely be the winner of the election to replace Curtis as mayor. Michelle Kaufusi, a Provo School Board member, was leading UTA board Vice Chairwoman Sherrie Hall Everett in results released Tuesday night.
In the 3rd Congressional District, a winner was declared less than an hour after the polls closed in the special election for a seat that has been vacant since former Rep. Jason Chaffetz stepped down June 30 and became a Fox News contributor.
Curtis had a wide lead over the other seven candidates in the special election with nearly 58 percent of the vote. His nearest competitor was Democrat Kathie Allen, with just over 27 percent in the final batch of results released Tuesday night.
Allen posted a pair of controversial tweets about the race shortly before midnight on Election Day that were later deleted.
"Curtis is Mormon and Republican. I am neither. That really seems to be the only thing Utah County cares about, just as I was warned," she posted on Twitter in response to a question about what happened in the election.
The Cottonwood Heights physician and first-time candidate began apologizing shortly after noon Wednesday in a series of exchanges on Twitter that included accusations she was bitter about her loss.
"I deleted this tweet. It hurts to lose. I am sorry for this remark. It was only up for a few hours in the middle of the night when I was grieving," Allen tweeted early in the day.
Later, she tweeted, "Please don’t take a tweet of frustration as a reflection of how I feel about Mormons. I appreciate those who supported me, and I hope I opened some dialogue."
At one point, she asked someone who said her initial tweet lacked class, "How many apologies would you like?"
And in a longer Facebook post later in the evening, Allen continued to try to explain herself.
She said the initial tweet was treated "as though a single tweet is the defining moment of who I am as a human being," calling it "wrong and misguided" and pointing out she deleted it and apologized.
Then, Allen said the facts "for those of you who are so deeply offended" are that Utah County "invariably" votes Republican and is largely LDS and questioned why there are "zero non-LDS members" among Utah's congressional delegation.
"Why do Democrats have such a difficult time winning elections in Utah County? And please don’t tell me it’s because we are all flawed. We aren’t any more flawed as human beings than Republicans. Everyone is flawed. That’s why every religion calls upon us to forgive each other," she said in her Facebook post.
Allen had also tweeted and then deleted a response overnight to another question about the lack of support for her campaign by the national Democratic Party that she was "disgusted" with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Her campaign, which raised and spent more money than Curtis', "moved the needle about 18 points" single-handedly, she tweeted, then asked, "What might I have done with some help?"
Allen's campaign spokesman, Daniel Friend, said he was no longer working for her and would have advised her against tweeting about Mormonism.
"I certainly think that kind of thing is counterproductive," he said.
Friend said he's a member of the LDS Church and can understand how the tweet could be seen as offensive. He said he believes voters weren't looking at faith in casting their ballots, but party.
"Voting Republican is such a tradition for people," Friend said. "It’s become part of an identity."
Curtis said he had no indication Allen felt that way from what he said was a "very kind" phone call conceding the race Tuesday evening.
"I think all of us have to be thoughtful and careful. We're in an environment right now that is just ready to boil over," he said, promising to work hard "to make sure the conversation settles things down."
As mayor of Provo for the past eight years, Curtis said he's "pretty in tune with the hearts and souls there, and they're good people. They're concerned about a lot of things."
Chaffetz on Wednesday said he's happy with his new life outside Congress, which in addition to Fox News appearances includes public speaking and writing a book about government's so-called "deep state."
The former Republican congressman first elected in 2008 said he's excited about Curtis' win.
"I think he'll be a great representative. He'll work hard," Chaffetz said on KSL Newsradio's "The Doug Wright Show."
And although he has offered his assistance to the newest member of Utah's congressional delegation, Chaffetz said he wants to let Curtis "blaze his own trail and set up his own system."
Curtis announced Wednesday he has named Corey Norman, Provo deputy mayor and public information officer, as his chief of staff. He said resumes for congressional positions in Utah and Washington, D.C., can be submitted at resume.johncurtis.org.
Daniel Blake, a senior adviser to Curtis' campaign, will lead the transition effort.13 comments on this story
Curtis is set to hold an "Ask Me Anything" session Thursday on his campaign's Facebook page starting at 10 a.m.
Also Thursday, another batch of election results will be released. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox is expected to advise the U.S. House speaker that Curtis can be seated early because the results won't change before the state's official canvass on Nov. 28.
Based on Tuesday's results, Cox said he's "100 percent confident" Curtis will be the official winner, calling an upset at this point "virtually impossible" statistically.