Republican Celeste Maloy wins Utah special election to replace her former boss US Rep. Chris Stewart

Utah 2nd Congressional District Republican nominee Celeste Maloy speaks to reporters before an election night party at the Utah Trucking Association, Nov. 21, 2023, in West Valley City, Utah | Photo by Rick Bowmer, The Associated Press, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Republican Celeste Maloy has won a Utah special election to replace her former boss, U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, in a race that will put a woman back among Utah’s five-member congressional delegation for the first time since 2019.

Maloy beat state Sen. Kathleen Riebe, who as minority whip is the Utah Senate’s second-ranking Democrat.

Stewart resigned in September after 10 years in Congress because his wife is ill.

Maloy was Stewart’s chief legal counsel. She had Stewart’s endorsement and that of former Utah U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, and was favored to win in the reliably Republican 2nd District, which sprawls from Salt Lake City to the state’s western and southern edges.

Maloy will be only the fifth woman in history to represent Utah in the U.S. House. The most recent was Mia Love, who served 2015-19 and was the state’s first Black congresswoman. Utah has never had a woman in the U.S. Senate.

State Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, gives an interview on election night at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Nov. 21, 2023. Riebe was defeated by Republican Celeste Maloy in the special election to fill Rep. Chris Stewart’s seat in the 2nd congressional district. | Photo by Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via The Associated Press, St. George News

A southern Nevada native and current resident of southwestern Utah, Maloy campaigned on improving security on the U.S.-Mexico border, reining in what she calls “out of control” federal spending, protecting religious freedom and putting Utah more in control of natural resources on its federal lands.

She highlighted her experience working for Stewart in an Oct. 26 debate with Riebe.

“I’ve been working for this district. I’ve been solving issues that people in this district have called their congressman about and asked for help,” Maloy said in the debate. “Congress is struggling right now. Things aren’t going smoothly and we really need somebody to get into this state who knows how Congress works.”

She will join Utah’s three other Republican U.S. House members. The state’s two U.S. senators are also Republican.

Maloy dominated Riebe in fundraising, bringing in almost $600,000 and spending more than three-quarters of that over the seven months leading up to the election. Riebe brought in half that amount and spent about 90%, according to candidate reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

A six-term congressman and U.S. Air Force veteran, Stewart set off a Republican scramble to fill his seat after his announcement in May he was resigning. At a Republican convention in June, Maloy was the top vote-getter among more than 10 candidates seeking the job.

Maloy went on to ride a wave of rural support and win a three-way Republican special primary Sept. 5, beating former state Rep. Becky Edwards and businessperson Bruce Hough.

The primary was a rare gauge this year of how Republican voters feel about a string of indictments against Donald Trump. Maloy, a Trump supporter, beat Edwards, a critic of the former president.

Written by MEAD GRUVER, The Associated Press

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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