Celeste Maloy is the Utah GOP’s convention nominee for the special CD2 primary
It took five rounds of voting to whittle down 11 candidates at the Utah Republican Party’s special nominating convention. In the end, Celeste Maloy secured a simple majority as the delegates’ top pick in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District.
The party base had gathered in the small town of Delta, Utah, at the high school for the June 24 convention to replace outgoing Republican Rep. Chris Stewart, who announced he would leave Congress as of September.
“I’m a fighter, I’m a worker, and I’m going to show up for you every day. Whether I’m wearing a dress or in pants, whether I’m in D.C. or in St. George or in the rural counties,” Maloy said. “I’m your girl.”
Maloy overtook former Utah Speaker of the House Greg Hughes in the final round of voting and garnered 52% of the votes. Many delegates anticipated Hughes would run away with the party’s nomination. But by the fourth round of voting, Jordan Hess, former Utah GOP vice-chair and another candidate who was eyeing the CD2 seat, was eliminated from the race, and he threw all his support behind Maloy.
In an indirect dig at Hughes, Hess said he “supports someone who lives in CD2,” which Hughes does not. Maloy lives in Cedar City. “More importantly it’s time for southern Utah to have someone in Congress,” Hess said with massive cheers from the audience following his endorsement of Maloy.
With the help of Hess’s votes from previous rounds, Maloy came out victorious.
“I am on top of the world. It still feels surreal,” she said. “I want to bring Utah's values to Washington. I'm excited that somebody off the Wasatch Front got elected, but I want to represent the district as a whole.”
Despite emerging victorious at the convention, Maloy’s path to secure the GOP nomination is not over yet. Five other candidates — Becky Edwards, Bruce Hough, Remy Bubba Kush, Scott Hatfield and Scott Reber — have indicated they would gather signatures to appear on the CD2 primary ballot. Those candidates have until July 5 to gather 7,000 of them.
Per state law and Utah GOP rules, only one candidate can move on from a special nominating convention. That means for candidates Kathleen Anderson, Quin Denning, Henry Eyring, Jordan Hess, Bill Hoster and Greg Hughes, who chose to pursue the convention-only route, the campaign trail has ended.
The quickly scheduled special convention was necessary because, according to state law, special elections must coincide with an already scheduled election like a general election or presidential primary, unless a new date is created by the Legislature. Without changing the dates of the elections, the earliest Stewart’s seat could have been filled would have been Utah’s March 2024 presidential primary.
This would have left Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy with a thinner majority and Utah without a full delegation for nearly six months — something state leaders wanted to avoid.
Stewart’s unexpected resignation to attend to his wife’s health issues sparked the Legislature to change the municipal election dates to coincide with a CD2 special election. The new law allocates $2.5 million to conduct the election and moves the primary date to Sept. 5 and the general election to Nov. 21.
“I would invite the news media and elected officials who doubt the ability of the caucus convention system to work to take note,” party Chair Rob Axson told the delegates. “Also, I would point out for all the criticism I got for putting on a convention in Delta, Utah, more of you showed up here than showed up at UVU two months ago.”
Selecting the candidate
Prior to voting, Iron County delegate ReAnne Reimschussel said she wants someone who is collaborative and “less extremist” in Washington.
“I want solutions instead of a bunch of bickering,” she said. “I would like somebody who is able to take in consideration all sides, think through any potential unintended consequences and take the time to work through it.”
That’s why she threw her support behind Maloy. Reimschussel appreciates Maloy’s background as a lawyer and believes she would take a “thoughtful stance” on top issues, like fiscal responsibility.
“I don't think she's super divisive in the way she approaches things. At least that's not what I've seen exhibited from her as opposed to some of these other candidates,” Reimschussel said.
Not all delegates felt that way. Tooele County delegate David Vice said he believes Hughes has the most charisma out of the congressional hopefuls.
“All these candidates have very similar messages, but only Greg Hughes stands out on that stage when he speaks to the audience,” he said. “I mean, the guy is like a game show host.”
While he normally prefers candidates with military experience, Vice said he wants someone with a “powerful ability to connect with an audience to get the votes in Congress,” to protect “the Republic from this communist destination that we seem to be headed towards.”
Registered Republicans in the 2nd Congressional District will select from Maloy and the GOP candidates that gather enough signatures in the Sep. 5 primary election. The winner will become the GOP nominee and appear on the general election ballot next to candidates from other parties.
Ballots for the GOP primary will be mailed on July 25.
In other party business
Delegates of the Utah GOP’s State Executive Committee also elected Kim Coleman as the new party vice-chair after Jordan Hess resigned to run for the open CD2 seat. Coleman is a former state representative and defeated former party secretary Olivia Dawn.