Utilities regulator Justin Olson enters GOP Senate race, slams Dems’ spending proposal

Justin Olson/Cronkite News file

By Yvonne Wingett Sanchez | Arizona Republic

Arizona Corporation Commission member Justin Olson is running for the U.S. Senate.

The already unsettled field in the U.S. Senate Republican primary next year just got bigger with the entry of Justin Olson, a state utility regulator and former chief finance officer for Turning Point USA, the conservative student movement that has delivered audiences of thousands for former President Donald Trump. 

Olson, 42, of Mesa, had been signaling a Senate run. He recently began appearing at meet-and-greets at Republican clubs to introduce himself as a potential candidate in the politically divided state that has elected two Democratic U.S. senators in the past two elections. 

Flanked by friends, supporters, state lawmakers and his family, Olson announced his entry into the race at an event at the state Capitol, west of downtown Phoenix. He hails from the heart of the East Valley suburbs, where Republicans maintained their hold in 2020 as other areas fell away from supporting Trump and other statewide candidates.

A former state lawmaker who chaired a legislative committee that helps regulate expenditures, Olson is presenting himself to voters as a youthful voice familiar with the intricacies of tax policy and government spending.

The winner of the Republican primary contest will face incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., who won a 2020 special election to fill the remainder of the term initially won by the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. 

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