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Maloy, Edwards and Hough will face off in the GOP primary to replace Chris Stewart

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2021.
Al Drago
Pool via AP
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2021.

The race to fill outgoing U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart’s congressional seat will feature a former staffer, a Republican National Committeeman, and current and former state lawmakers.

Republicans and Democrats have finalized the candidates slated to appear on Sept. 5 primary ballots, setting the stage for a Nov. 21 special election to replace Stewart, the six-term Utah congressman who announced plans to resign in May.

Utah voters registered as Republicans will choose from three candidates: former Stewart staffer Celeste Maloy, former Republican National Committeeman Bruce Hough and former state Sen. Becky Edwards. State Sen. Kathleen Riebe, whom Democrats nominated at their convention in June, is the only Democrat running. Five additional third-party and unaffiliated candidates are also running.

Stewart's unexpected resignation set off a rush in Utah as Republicans lined up to vie to succeed him in the deeply conservative district spanning from St. George to downtown Salt Lake City. State law allows candidates to qualify for the primary election ballot in two ways, either through their party's nomination or, for a congressional election, through gathering 7,000 signatures.

Utah Republicans at their June party convention nominated attorney Celeste Maloy, Stewart's former legal counsel whom both he and former U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop endorsed. She prevailed over Greg Hughes, the former Republican Utah House Speaker who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2020, and nine other candidates.

Some Republicans in the statehouse later questioned her eligibility after The Salt Lake Tribune reported that her voter registration with the Republican Party had become inactive because she hadn't voted in recent elections while living in Virginia and working for Stewart. The party ultimately nominated her anyway as Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson defended her eligibility under state law.

Maloy will compete against two candidates on the Republican ballot. The Utah Lt. Governor's Office said Wednesday that Bruce Hough, a longtime Republican Party activist from Park City who co-founded a nutritional supplement company, had submitted enough signatures to qualify. Hough resigned from his position as Utah's Republican National Committeeman to run. Former State Sen. Becky Edwards, who ran on an anti-Trump platform in Utah's Republican primary for the U.S. Senate last year, qualified for the ballot on July 7.

All three are running on traditional small government, pro-business platforms. Utah's 2nd Congressional District leans heavily Republican. Stewart defeated Democrat Nick Mitchell by more than 25 percentage points in 2022.

This story was written by Sam Metz of the Associated Press

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