Republican former House staffer to face Democratic legislator in Utah special election for Congress

Republican former House staffer to face Democratic legislator in Utah special election for Congress

In the special election to fill the vacant seat of Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, voters in Utah will have a choice between a Republican former congressional staffer and a Democratic state senator. The election will take place on Tuesday.

The Republican candidate, Celeste Maloy, is Stewart’s former chief counsel. She will be competing against state Sen. Kathleen Riebe, who is the No. 2 Democrat in the state Senate as minority whip. Both candidates are vying to become the first woman in Utah’s congressional delegation since 2019 and only the fifth in history.

Maloy, a native of southern Nevada and resident of southwestern Utah, is considered the favorite in the Republican-leaning 2nd congressional district. This district stretches from southern and western Utah to Salt Lake City. If elected, Maloy will join the state’s three other Republican U.S. House members, as well as the two Republican U.S. senators.

During her campaign, Maloy focused on improving security on the U.S.-Mexico border, controlling federal spending, protecting religious freedom, and giving Utah more control over its federal lands’ natural resources. She emphasized her experience working for Stewart in a recent debate with Riebe.

Riebe, a Long Island native living in the Salt Lake City suburb of Cottonwood Heights, campaigned on her background as a teacher. She pledged to continue teaching five days a week while advocating for more affordable housing, support for labor unions, and public education based on student needs and community values.

In terms of fundraising, Maloy had a significant advantage, raising almost $600,000 and spending the majority of that amount in the seven months leading up to the election. Riebe, on the other hand, raised half of that amount and spent about 90%, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The last woman to represent Utah in the U.S. House was Mia Love, who served from 2015 to 2019 and was the state’s first Black congresswoman. The vacancy in the seat was created when Stewart, a six-term congressman and U.S. Air Force veteran, announced in May that he was resigning to care for his ill wife.

Maloy secured the Republican nomination after winning a three-way special primary against former state Rep. Becky Edwards and businessperson Bruce Hough. Riebe, on the other hand, became the Democratic nominee after being the top vote-getter in a Democratic convention with no opposition.

The outcome of this special election will determine who will represent Utah’s 2nd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.