Utah's trampoline tycoon wants to 'Restore the American dream' (2024)

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of articles looking at the Republican candidates for Utah’s open 3rd Congressional District seat.

Entrepreneur Case Lawrence thinks Congress needs a new business model.

In his endeavor to win Utah’s open 3rd District seat, the founder of the largest trampoline park company in the world, based in Provo, has leveraged his start-up track record to embrace an increasingly hard-to-find theme in today’s political climate: optimism.

Lawrence wagers that faith in the promise of the United States, paired with serious conservative leadership, is enough to win him the GOP primary nomination and help fix the dysfunction in the House Republican Conference.

But first, he would have to persuade his colleagues to abandon what he sees as an unsustainable marketing ploy.

“There’s a market for doom and gloom. And so it’s going to take leaders to push against that in order to change the culture,” Lawrence told the Deseret News editorial board on Thursday. “We need to bring disruptive ideas to our political culture. And I’m grateful to have already started that with our ‘restoring the American dream’ message.”

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Lawmakers with “Utah values” can begin to restore the American dream from Washington, D.C., Lawerence believes, by taking something of a “yes, but” approach to the nation’s most intractable problems.

Yes, families have been hit hard by inflation. But, America has the tools and the people to avoid an economic crisis. Yes, the southern border is in chaos. But, there is more political will to reform the country’s immigration system than ever before. Yes, Congress has consistently increased its budget deficit. But, the GOP conference has learned over the last session what works and what doesn’t to halt spending increases.

The way Lawrence sees it, the question is whether members of Congress will take this moment to articulate an “aspirational message” or try to exploit it through “pandering populism.”

“I’m concerned about the dysfunction in D.C., in our own party and in our own caucus — that’s part of my motivation for running,” Lawrence said. “More than ever, it’s important to send serious people who know how to get things done, who can work with others, build relationships and accomplish things. That’s what it takes to get things done in the real world. And increasingly, that seems to be ignored as a process for getting things done in Washington, D.C.”

Utah's trampoline tycoon wants to 'Restore the American dream' (1)

Case Lawrence: The top issues for the 3rd District

The diversity of Utah’s 3rd Congressional District — which includes what Lawrence calls “the heart and soul of the Wasatch Front” in south Salt Lake County and Utah County, as well as nearly all of eastern Utah — makes it “a microcosm of the nation,” Lawrence said.

And as such, Lawrence said the top three issues for 3rd District Republican voters are the same concerns felt by much of the country: the economy, immigration and spending.

A strong economy should always be the No. 1 priority for lawmakers, Lawrence said, and with his background Lawrence said he knows how to create one.

Lawrence started his career as a corporate attorney in Silicon Valley after graduating from Brigham Young University and Duke Law School. A few years later, he founded an office and storage space company, CargoBay, which came to the brink of bankruptcy during the Great Recession.

Instead of retreating from LLCs to a law firm, however, Lawrence decided to experiment with a fledgling form of extreme recreation: trampoline parks — warehouses converted into a thrill-seeking destinations with trampolines covering the walls and floor.

Lawrence opened up a number of locations before realizing the business was quickly expanding to be more than just a “side hustle,” he said. In 2011, Lawrence founded CircusTrix in Provo which grew to three dozen locations on multiple continents within five years and then ballooned to 300 locations after acquiring multiple other trampoline park companies, including Sky Zone, which became the company’s new name in a subsequent rebrand.

In 2020, Lawrence stepped down as CEO and began teaching Entrepreneurship 101 at BYU’s Marriott School of Business. With this background, Lawrence said he will pursue a position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee which 3rd District Rep. John Curtis currently serves on.

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Lawrence said he also wants to lead on the issue of immigration. He said he would support funding a border wall in highly populated areas, investment for better surveillance technology and amendments for asylum laws to stop overwhelming the system in a way that has created a “national security emergency.”

But the unprecedented level of border crossings and drug trafficking have also created a political window to reform the country’s immigration system, he said.

“Legal immigration is a fundamental part of the American dream,” Lawrence said. “I think that there is a greater opportunity to fix this than any time in modern history.”

On spending, there is a drastic need to return to the intended process where House committees mark up budget proposals “line-by-line” instead of copying and pasting past year’s budgets into a massive and opaque “omnibus” package, he said.

Lawrence said he is willing to dig his heels in the sand to stop massive stimulus and subsidy bills, like the ones passed during the Biden administration, and will take a hard line to push for deals that limit top line spending, like the spending cap negotiated by former Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to raise the debt ceiling. Lawrence said he is not willing to threaten a government shutdown because as a tactic it is a “loser for Republicans.”

A litmus test for lawmakers

But there are other stances Lawrence said he is willing to take even if they are a “loser” for him politically.

One is a willingness to reform the country’s biggest welfare programs, which Lawerence considers “a litmus test of public servants who are truly interested in solving problems.” Regarding Social Security, the largest driver of national debt, Lawrence proposes pushing back the age of eligibility for new workers and implementing means testing as a good place to start.

Another controversial topic is term limits. Lawrence has already committed to a self-imposed term limit of eight years, saying that the maximum time of service for a president should be good enough for Congress and that there is an inherent benefit to the “churn” of people in government.

Lawerence said providing Ukraine with the means to defend itself against Russia is an investment in American interests, not simply charitable foreign aid, because it protects NATO allies in Europe and diminishes Russian capacity.

And while he said he won’t shy away from voting for Utah “conservative cultural values,” Lawrence doesn’t think “the 3rd District of Utah needs or wants a culture warrior back in Washington, D.C.”

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Lawrence will appear on the June 25 Republican primary ballot along with Roosevelt Mayor JR Bird, State Auditor John Dougall, commercial litigator Stewart Peay and state Sen. Mike Kennedy, the GOP convention nominee.

Lawrence’s campaign was the first to submit its signatures to qualify for the ballot and has received more contributions than any candidate with the exception of Kennedy, with $336,000 in donations. His campaign coffers far exceed those of his opponents, however, because of a $1.3 million loan he lent himself. Lawrence has spent at least four times more money than any other candidate in the race, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Lawrence also has the endorsem*nts of three BYU sports legends: former BYU basketball star Jimmer Fredette, BYU soccer standout Mikayla Cluff and BYU football national champion Robbie Bosco.

On Nov. 5, the Republican nominee will face off against Democratic candidate Glenn Wright.

Utah's trampoline tycoon wants to 'Restore the American dream' (2024)
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