POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Maloy declares victory, Jenkins can call for recount in congressional primary

Jul 9, 2024, 9:46 PM | Updated: 9:49 pm

Utah's 2nd Congressional District debate between Colby Jenkins and Congresswoman Celeste Maloy at t...

Utah's 2nd Congressional District debate between Colby Jenkins and Congresswoman Celeste Maloy at the KUED studios at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 10, 2024. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Celeste Maloy holds a narrow 214-vote lead over challenger Colby Jenkins in the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary, though Jenkins moved within range to qualify for a recount as counties completed their canvasses Tuesday evening.

The margin is down from the 314-vote lead Maloy held Monday morning, as late incoming ballots from Washington County continue to break heavily for Jenkins.

Maloy declared victory in a call with reporters, recounting a busy several months of campaigning for reelection immediately upon being sworn in last November.

“Two-hundred and fourteen votes is pretty close, but it’s about 213 votes more than you need to win, so I’m grateful for that,” she said, speaking with reporters on a video call from Washington. “I’m glad to have some finality. I know we’re in potential recount territory, but I don’t anticipate that a recount will change the outcome.”

Jenkins’ campaign has previously hinted that it would pursue a recount if the margins were within the 0.25% required by state law, and his campaign manager, Greg Powers, on Monday said the campaign was also considering trying to contest the results in court if a recount wasn’t possible.

Powers told KSL.com Tuesday the campaign plans to pursue a recount but will have to wait until after the statewide canvass on July 22.

“I’ve been in a lot of battles in my life; victory isn’t something you declare,” Jenkins said in a statement. “You win it, or you don’t. Let Celeste declare victory, and we will win it.”

Maloy appeared unbothered at the prospect of a recount or other legal challenges to the results. Quoting her mother, she said: “I can’t control anybody else. I can only control me.”

“I know what my next step is: I’m going to get up in the morning, go back to Capitol Hill and vote and represent the people in the 2nd District,” she continued. “That’s my job. It’s my job currently, and I think it’s going to be my job for the next two years.”

The election has already been subject to litigation after Jenkins’ campaign sued the Washington County clerk, seeking to compel him to turn over a list of voters whose ballots had issues that needed to be remedied. A judge ruled against Jenkins on Monday, saying that clerks have discretion when it comes to turning over so-called “cure lists.”

Jenkins and others have also expressed concern about several hundred mail-in ballots from Washington and Iron counties that were not counted because they were not postmarked in time. Mail from several southern Utah counties is routed through a facility in Las Vegas, so some ballots appear to have been postmarked days after they were mailed.

State election law prohibits mail-in ballots from being counted if they are postmarked later than the day before the election.

Iron County Commissioner Paul Cozzens on Friday said he wouldn’t vote to certify the election results because of the issue with the U.S. Postal Service. The county ultimately voted to certify the election Tuesday afternoon with Cozzens in dissent.

Powers said the Jenkins campaign is considering legal action beyond requesting a recount to adjudicate the several hundred ballots that were postmarked late.

“We would like to do that, whether it’s in the recount process, or if that requires a legal challenge,” he said, of trying to get the late ballots counted. “That’s going to be a big focus of ours, just making sure every vote is counted. And then win, lose or draw, we’ll accept whatever the results are.”

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, the state’s top election official, explained the process of a potential recount in a post on social media Tuesday evening. She said the losing candidate can request a recount after the statewide canvass on July 22. The candidate will have seven days to file for a recount following the canvass, and the recount “shall be conducted” within seven days after that, she said.

As part of the recount, county clerks will recount all ballots and reexamine all uncounted ballots. The recount will be audited, and county boards will canvass the results of the recount in their counties.

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Maloy declares victory, Jenkins can call for recount in congressional primary