GOP’s Celeste Maloy Wins Utah Special Election to Replace Rep. Chris Stewart

In a noteworthy special election on Tuesday, Celeste Maloy, a Republican, triumphed in Utah, claiming the seat vacated by her previous employer, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah. This victory marks the return of a female representative to Utah’s five-member congressional delegation, a first since 2019.

Maloy secured her win against state Sen. Kathleen Riebe, the Utah Senate’s second-ranking Democrat and minority whip. Celebrating her victory, Maloy expressed her belief in the American Dream, highlighting her journey from a small town to Congress as an inspiration for others.

Stewart resigned in September, having served for a decade in Congress, due to his wife’s illness. Maloy, who served as Stewart’s chief legal counsel, received endorsements from Stewart himself and former Utah U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop. Her candidacy was highly anticipated in the solidly Republican 2nd District, which extends from Salt Lake City to the far reaches of the state.

Maloy’s election makes her only the fifth woman to represent Utah in the House. The last female representative was Mia Love, serving from 2015 to 2019, who was also Utah’s first Black congresswoman. Utah has yet to see a woman in the U.S. Senate.

A native of southern Nevada and residing in southwestern Utah, Maloy focused her campaign on several key issues: enhancing U.S.-Mexico border security, curtailing what she perceives as excessive federal spending, safeguarding religious freedoms, and advocating for Utah’s greater control over its federal lands.

Entering a Republican-dominated House, Maloy aims to contribute positively amidst the recent turmoil over government spending. She aspires to be a stabilizing and drama-free presence, hoping to unite her party in Congress.

Maloy joins three other Republican House members from Utah, with the state’s Senate seats also held by Republicans.

In fundraising, Maloy significantly outperformed Riebe, raising almost $600,000 and spending a substantial portion of it in the seven months leading to the election. Riebe, on the other hand, raised half as much and spent about 90% of her funds, as per Federal Election Commission reports.

Despite her defeat, Riebe remains optimistic, focusing on the cohesive gains made within the Democratic Party, especially regarding reproductive rights issues. She remains open to running again, hopeful about Utah’s potential political shift towards a more bipartisan state.

Maloy’s candidacy was propelled forward following Stewart’s resignation announcement in May, leading to a competitive race among Republicans. At a June convention, Maloy emerged as the top choice among over ten candidates. She then clinched the Republican special primary in September, outpacing former state Rep. Becky Edwards and businessman Bruce Hough.

The primary served as a rare indicator of Republican voter sentiment, particularly concerning indictments against Donald Trump. Maloy, a Trump supporter, won against Edwards, a known critic of the former president.

In an October debate with Riebe, Maloy underscored her experience working for Stewart, emphasizing her readiness to tackle the challenges faced by Congress and her deep understanding of the workings of the legislative body.