Republican Celeste Maloy wins Utah special election to replace US Rep. Chris Stewart
Nov 21, 2023, 8:45 PM | Updated: 10:58 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — 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.
She 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 from 2015-2019 and was the state’s first Black congresswoman. Utah has never had a woman in the U.S. Senate.
She was emotional as she addressed the crowd after hearing she was declared the winner. Her speech was heartfelt, and she choked up expressing her gratitude for her family and her supporters.
“My grandma told me to think about it before I ran because she said if you run, you’re gonna win, so think about whether you really want to be in Congress,” she said. “I have strong women in my life who I think deserve as much as the credit in this as I do.”
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.
Kathleen Riebe, released the following statement Tuesday evening.
The voters of the Second District have made their decision. I just spoke to Representative-elect Maloy and wished her the best. I look forward to her advocacy on behalf of our state at the national level, and the pressing issues of water, affordable housing, and sustainable growth that face all Utahns.
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.
“I’m really really grateful to be here. I know this is a really rare opportunity. Not very many people ever get to run for Congress and even fewer of them ever win and get to have a party like this,” Maloy said on Tuesday, after the race was called. “I don’t take it lightly, I take it very seriously.”
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.
Maloy received congratulations from more of her colleagues and rivals from all over the state.
Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, issued the following statement Tuesday night on Maloy’s victory:
As the Dean of Utah’s House delegation, I am pleased to welcome Congresswoman-elect Celeste Maloy to Congress. Celeste brings a huge amount of knowledge to fight for our rural communities and ensure we continue to push back against federal overreach. I look forward to her taking the oath of office and getting to work for Utahns.
The Salt Lake County Democratic Party released a statement as well:
Congratulations to the many candidates who’ve been elected to public office tonight! While we are disappointed in the outcome of the Special Election to replace Rep. Chris Stewart, we are extremely proud of the work Sen. Riebe put into the race.
Debbie Worthen contributed to this report.