Former House aide Celeste Maloy won the special Republican primary Tuesday in Utah’s 2nd District for the seat held by her former boss, Rep. Chris Stewart, who is resigning next week.
Maloy had a lead of about 1,400 votes in a three-way race Tuesday night, but The Associated Press said it would wait to see if the results changed as more mail ballots were counted. Almost all votes in Utah are cast by mail and ballots completed by Tuesday would be counted if they were received as late as Sept. 19.
The AP called the race at 7:54 p.m. Wednesday, and a tally on the state’s website showed Maloy ahead by more than 2,400 votes. She had 38 percent to former state legislator Becky Edwards’ 35 percent and former state Republican Party chairman Bruce Hough’s 27 percent. Edwards, a critic of former President Donald Trump who had challenged GOP Sen. Mike Lee for the nomination in 2022 and raised the most money for the special election, conceded.
“While there remain ballots to be counted, we have come up short in this race,” she said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “As our campaign comes to a close, we want to extend our deepest gratitude to each and every one of you.”
Stewart, a six-term fiscal conservative and frequent critic of big government, had been weighing a possible challenge to Republican Sen. Mitt Romney next year. Instead he decided he will step down on Sept. 15, citing health issues experienced by his wife, Evie Stewart.
Maloy worked as counsel to Stewart in his Washington office, and he endorsed her. She faces litigation trying to remove her from the ballot because she did not have an active Utah voter registration as a Republican when she filed to run.
Maloy is from rural southern Utah, and drew most of her votes from the rural part of the district, while Edwards dominated more urban areas in and around Salt Lake City. With a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Southern Utah University and a law degree from Brigham Young University, Maloy spent much of her career involved with public lands policy and litigation before going to the Hill.
Maloy faces state Sen. Kathleen Reibe, who won a Democratic convention in June and did not face a primary, as well as five independent candidates. But the Republican nominee is heavily favored to fill the seat in a special general election on Nov. 21. Trump carried the district over Joe Biden by 17 percentage points in 2020.
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