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Becky Edwards leans on her lawmaker’s experience in her run to replace Stewart

Becky Edwards is one of three Republican candidates competing in the Sept. 5 special primary election for the GOP nomination to replace Congressman Chris Stewart in Utah's 2nd Congressional District.
courtesy Becky Edwards for Congress
Becky Edwards is one of three Republican candidates competing in the Sept. 5 special primary election for the GOP nomination to replace Congressman Chris Stewart in Utah's 2nd Congressional District.

Fifteen years ago, Becky Edwards was inspired to run for the Utah Legislature after her daughters gave her a taste of her own medicine.

“I was doing a lot of complaining about an issue,” she said. “And they said, ‘Well, you should do what you tell us to do. Stop complaining and do something about it.’”

When her kids threw her own advice back at her, Edwards said she felt a calling to represent her community by entering politics. And it worked. Edwards won in the former House District 20, covering primarily Davis County and spent the next decade as a Republican state representative on Utah’s Capitol Hill.

Now, she wants to go back to Capitol Hill. But this time in Washington as a representative of Utah’s 2nd Congressional District.

“I feel that same calling right now to represent the people in this state in a way that I know reflects what I think the Utah Way, our Utah values, our way of life [is] here,” she said. “People want to see a common sense, a productive, inclusive person representing them in Washington, D.C. And that's why I'm in this race.”

This isn’t her first shot at a national seat. Edwards lost the Republican primary election to incumbent Sen. Mike Lee in 2022.

But this is a different race. Republican Rep. Chris Stewart is stepping down midterm, sparking a special election to find his replacement.

Edwards was met with tepid applause from CD2 delegates at the special GOP convention in June. A few attendees called her a RINO, or ‘a Republican in name only,’ and accused her of voting for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election against former President Donald Trump. She also participated in a video by Women of Faith Speak Up and Speak Out, a group that encouraged women with religious backgrounds to vote against Trump.

Despite criticism from some in the party for being too moderate, she stands by her Republican political affiliation.

“I was elected five times as a Republican in a solidly Republican community in Davis County, and I worked on issues that were solidly Republican,” Edwards said.

To be the party nominee, she has to come out victorious in the primary against two other candidates: Celeste Maloy, who won the GOP party nomination at convention, and Bruce Hough, the former chair of the Utah GOP and an entrepreneur, who landed himself on the ballot the same way Edwards did – by gathering signatures.

Edwards believes one critical point sets her apart from the competition: “Experience.”

While Maloy and Hough are involved in politics, Edwards said she’s trampled “in the weeds on issues that matter” on a lawmaking level. She prides herself on being collaborative and solutions-oriented. Edwards pointed to her time in the Legislature, where she spearheaded the state’s first climate change resolution. Edwards said she worked with high school students on the resolution and spent a great deal of time conversing with Republican colleagues who had concerns. In the end, it passed with a majority.

“That ability to bring people together is something I led out on over and over in the [Utah] House, on affordable housing, on justice reform, things that really mattered to everyday Utahns. And I think I can do that in D.C.,” Edwards said.

CD2 is much bigger than Edwards's old state house district. It’s the largest district in Utah and geographically bigger than 13 states. It covers both urban and rural parts of the state, like Salt Lake County and Wayne County.

As Edwards has made the rounds, she said one issue has topped the mind of each voter she’s interacted with – the economy.

“Inflation has hit families hard and continues to impact their decisions and their abilities to kind of provide for their families,” she said. “Why is the federal government continuing to spend recklessly without any accountability and rack up federal debt in the trillions after trillions? And this is devastating for American families and families across Utah.”

Edwards said she has the chops to tackle excessive spending in Washington because she did it here in Utah, helping balance the state budget and chairing the Economics Development and Workforce Services Committee for six years.

More applicable to southern Utah, Edwards wants to engage with all perspectives on the topic of public lands. She believes that’s a “better way to address public lands issues than an executive order,” referring to President Joe Biden’s recent designation of a new national monument near the Grand Canyon.

If elected, Edwards said she will also focus on affordable housing so Utahns won’t have to question “where their kids and grandkids will end up after they graduate from high school.”

The primary election is Sept. 5 and ballots are already in the mail. Only registered Republicans in CD2 can vote for one of the three GOP primary candidates. The winner will head to the Nov. 21 general election. Other candidates already in the general election include Democrat Kathleen Riebe, United Utah Party’s January Walker, Libertarian Bradley Green and Cassie Easley with the Constitution Party.

Utahns can find more information about how to vote at vote.utah.gov.

Editor’s Note: This profile of Becky Edwards is the first of three profiles for the Republican primary election.

Saige is a politics reporter and co-host of KUER's State Street politics podcast
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