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2nd Congressional GOP primary voter guide: What to know about Colby Jenkins and Celeste Maloy

The Republican primary candidates in Utah's 2nd Congressional District are incumbent Celeste Maloy and challenger Colby Jenkins.
US House of Representatives
Colby Jenkins for Congress Campaign
The Republican primary candidates in Utah's 2nd Congressional District are incumbent Celeste Maloy and challenger Colby Jenkins.

Rep. Celeste Maloy is running for her full first term to represent the 2nd Congressional District. She replaced her old boss, Chris Stewart, in a special election in 2023. Her challenger is Colby Jenkins, a businessman and veteran from St. George.

We asked Utahns what mattered to them during the primary season and that feedback informed this primary voter guide.

Methodology: An identical survey was sent to both campaigns. Provided answers were fact-checked prior to the publication of this guide and we included links and/or editor’s notes on our findings. If a candidate did not respond, KUER leaned on public statements, interviews and additional reporting to provide voters with useful information. Candidates appear in alphabetical order by surname.

Why do you want this job? (Mikaela, Morgan County)

  • Jenkins: I seek the privilege to represent Utah's 2nd Congressional District in order to continue serving our nation, my neighbors and my family. For more than three decades I have served our nation in uniform as a combat veteran Green Beret having sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign, and domestic. Continuing to serve our nation in this capacity offers an opportunity to reinforce the defense of our constitution, while ensuring leadership, judgment and accountability among our national leaders. I believe in limiting the power of government, restricting spending, fiscal conservatism and maintaining a strong national defense. I see our nation wavering in all of those areas, except for pockets of leaders trying to hold the line against many who continue to spend our nation into fiscal oblivion while our border remains wide open. We, the people, need a Congress of patriots and I hope to add my strength and experience to that need.
  • Maloy: As a Utah commonsense conservative, I am fully committed to serving the interests of our state and its residents. My primary motivation in seeking this job is to ensure that our conservative values, rooted in limited government, fiscal responsibility, and individual liberty, are well-represented in Congress. I deeply believe in the Utah way of life and will tirelessly work to support policies that enhance our economic prosperity, safeguard our rights, and strengthen our communities. I am devoted to taking the common sense solutions we've found here in Utah to the national stage in Washington, D.C.

If elected, how do you plan to represent all of your constituents, not just those of your own party? (Alison, Salt Lake County)

  • Jenkins: I plan to represent all of my constituents by limiting government overreach, exercising fiscal conservatism and maintaining a strong national defense while closing our border. By helping our nation be solid in these critical areas my team and I will be able to best raise the level of goodness positively for all those we represent, not just groups. My votes will greatly increase opportunities for better quality of life, economic conditions and security for all I have the privilege of representing. 
  • Maloy: If elected, I plan to represent all of my constituents by listening to their concerns and working towards solutions that benefit everyone. I believe that our Utah values of community, pragmatism, and respect for individual rights are shared across the political spectrum. These values have and will guide my actions and decisions in Congress. I will also continue to hold regular town halls and maintain open lines of communication to ensure I am accessible and responsive to all constituents. I understand that effective representation requires finding common ground and working towards the greater good of our district and nation.

How will you build consensus in Washington to address immigration issues? (Judy, Salt Lake)

  • Jenkins: I will build consensus in DC to address immigration issues by leading or aligning myself with other leaders and efforts already underway to close the border. Without closing our border and reestablishing control we do not have any chance of addressing immigration issues. Where such efforts may not exist, then my team and I will lead in creating legislation as needed, but more importantly, building coalitions that drive for accountability from those whose responsibility it is to secure our border. I will add my voice and leadership to stop wasteful spending that does not secure the border or create conditions for safe and legal immigration. Effective, fair and legal immigration cannot exist without a closed and controlled border.
  • Maloy: My approach is grounded in the principles of fairness, lawfulness, and respect for human dignity. I believe in a comprehensive approach that ensures border security and modernizes our legal immigration system.

    I am committed to working across the aisle to build consensus on these complex issues. I will prioritize solutions that are in line with our Utah values, which include compassion, pragmatism, and respect for individual rights and the rule of law."

What are your ideas for addressing long-term sustainability issues with Social Security? (Judy, Salt Lake)

  • Jenkins: It is clear we must address the long-term sustainability of social security. No one can deny that. I begin with we must honor the promises we have already made to our seniors. We cannot go back as a nation on those promises, similar to the promises we have made to our veterans. However, looking forward I would consider solutions that explore more privitization of individual investments already slotted for social security. Allowing the free market to have more positive influence in such funds, more individual control and privitization of funds are areas that may yield opportunities for us to create more solvency and sustainability for social security.
  • Maloy: Millions of Americans have paid into Social Security throughout their entire careers and they deserve the benefits that were promised to them. In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of Social Security, I believe we must approach this issue with a commitment to both fiscal responsibility and our duty to provide for our seniors.

    I am dedicated to pursuing pragmatic solutions that balance the need to secure our financial future with our responsibility to those who have worked their entire lives contributing to our society. This includes considering options such as gradually raising the retirement age to account for increasing life expectancy as well as exploring ways to increase efficiency and reduce waste within the system itself.

    We must also prioritize economic policies that fuel growth and increase the overall wealth of our nation, thereby expanding the resources available for Social Security. My approach will always be guided by our Utah values of fiscal responsibility, respect for our elders, and commitment to the well-being of all residents.

What is your stance on abortion? What is the role of the government in regulating abortion? (Kate, Salt Lake City)

  • Jenkins: I support life. I oppose abortion, except in the instances of rape, incest or threat to a woman's life. I agree with the current law of the land which allows for each state to determine abortion laws, etc…
  • Maloy: I believe in the sanctity of life and see every life as valuable and worth protecting. The government has a role in protecting the rights of every individual, including the unborn. I also recognize the complexity of this issue and the importance of providing support for women facing difficult circumstances. I am committed to promoting policies that not only protect life but also provide resources and support for mothers and families, such as improved access to healthcare and adoption services. This balanced approach reflects the Utah values of respect for life, compassion, and support for families.

What will you do to improve the national statistics on women’s issues such as pay disparities and the cost of daycare? (Rhonda, Iron County)

  • Jenkins: I am fortunate to be married to a wonderfully strong and beautiful woman with whom we have raised two equally strong daughters, now young women. Having three incredible women in my life certainly makes me a champion for equal protection and fairness towards women. I believe government should not be in the business of picking winners or losers or creating regulations that ultimately discriminate by emphasizing differences rather than building unity. I will champion opportunities where equal work is rewarded with equal pay. I will fight to protect young girls from having men compete in women's sports or enter into their dressing room.  
  • Maloy: I advocate for policy measures that promote equality of opportunity and support working families. This includes supporting legislation to ensure equal pay for equal work. I believe in empowering individuals and families through policies that enhance economic opportunity and remove barriers to success. Recognizing the vital role of women in our economy, I am committed to advancing policies that ensure women are fairly compensated for their work and that families have access to affordable childcare, enabling both parents to participate in the workforce if they choose.

What will you do to support public education? (CJ, Salt Lake County)

  • Jenkins: I believe parental sovereignty is foundational to any educational program. I will fight for and support a parent's right to have his/her voice heard and the ability to choose what his/her child is being taught, and where they are being taught. At the federal level, I will work to eliminate undo federal overreach mandating bureaucratic educational requirements foreign to a given local educational program. Local educators and leaders, along with parents, should be in the driver's seat when it comes to controlling educational funds, vision and programs, not bureaucrats in DC who are more accountable to federal leaders than parents.

    [Editor’s note: The bulk of education funding relies on state and local sources as opposed to federal money. As an example, in Utah, 10% of education funding comes from federal sources.]

  • Maloy: Our children's education is the foundation of Utah's future, and I will advocate for measures that ensure our schools are adequately funded, teachers are well-compensated, and students have access to the resources they need to succeed. At the same time, I will work to ensure that control over education remains in the hands of our local communities, as I believe they best understand the unique needs of their students.

How would you balance the issue of federal vs. state oversight of public lands? (Jacquelyn, Garfield County)

  • Jenkins: At the federal level, central to my duties will be limiting federal overreach and oversight of our public lands. Any and every opportunity I have to eliminate federal oversight of lands in our district will be my focus and that of my team. I will work closely with the new Trump administration to regain the positive momentum our congressional district experienced during the previous Trump administration in terms of federal/public land partnerships. We will capitalize on opportunities to return federal parcels (and more) of land back to the state. We will revisit any projects put on hold by the Biden administration that have negatively impacted a given county's ability to access, develop or even maintain lands previously accessible. Our approach will be more about limiting federal overreach than it will be about maintaining balance.
  • Maloy:  Two-thirds of Utah is federal land and no bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. cares more about that land than our people do. The balance between federal control and local stewardship has been out of whack for decades and needs to change. I believe in a balanced approach in which the federal government works in partnership with state authorities. It's crucial that we strike a balance that ensures sustainable use of our natural resources, respects local expertise and control, preserves access, and upholds our shared responsibility to preserve our lands for future generations.

    [Editor's note: A2020 Congressional Research Service report says the percentage of land in Utah that is federally owned is 63.1%. However, this analysis predates the Biden administration’s restoration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Utah leaders frequentlycite a higher percentage that includes state and federally-owned and managed land.]

What is your approach to environmental protection and energy production? (Rob, Salt Lake County)

[Editor’s note: For context, the U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that renewable energy production and consumption reached record highs in 2022, of about 13%. Petroleum accounted for 36% of the U.S. energy consumption in 2022, while coal accounted for 10%. U.S. total annual energy production has exceeded total annual energy consumption since 2019.]

  • Jenkins: My approach to environmental protection and energy production is to ensure where at all possible such decisions made in those regards are made by those leaders closest to the opportunity. As long as our nation remains dependent on other nations for energy then our economy, quality of life, national security and more will remain in question. I will support opportunities where our nation may thoughtfully develop energy to improve our sustainability and overall security while decreasing dependency.  Having grown up in rural Utah where access to the mountains, hunting, and outdoor recreation ran parallel with oil and natural gas production, I have seen how environmental protection and energy production may easily coexist and are not mutually exclusive.
  • Maloy: The United States of America has all the resources we need to be energy independent and it’s more responsible to the environment when we produce our own energy than when we depend on other countries. I believe in the balanced approach to environmental protection and energy production. This means supporting policies that protect our natural environment and preserve our beautiful Utah landscapes for future generations, while also championing responsible energy production that fuels our economy and provides jobs for our residents.

    Unfortunately, much of our current policy is based on the fantasy that renewable energy sources are currently sufficient to power the world’s largest economy and maintain our quality of life. While I am a strong proponent of clean energy technologies and believe that Utah can lead the way in the transition to a more sustainable energy future, I also understand the importance of traditional energy sectors to our economy, to our national security and to our state's economy. I will continue to work to ensure their continued viability in a way that respects our environmental commitments.

Do you support aid to Ukraine? What role does the U.S. have in international conflicts? (Janet, Weber County)

  • Jenkins: The United States must lead in the world. When the U.S. is absent from the world stage then the world burns. However, such leadership does not mean the U.S. must carry the burden for all, nor should we bounce from one endless war to another. In terms of the Ukraine, yes, we need to stand up to Putin and Russian expansion, while equally maintaining deterrence in the Pacific and China's growing influence. I do not support another dollar going to the Ukraine before we close our own border. I support America first and would vote to prioritize our border before the border of any other nation. I support President Trump's call to NATO partners for them to step up and see the Russian aggression as a threat to them. As a father who has a daughter about to enter the Army, I support Trump telling our NATO allies that he will not be sending my daughter to die in Ukraine while the French, Germans and other NATO allies watch and continue to free-ride on U.S. aid. 
  • Maloy: I support responsible, transparent aid to Ukraine. I believe in the importance of standing with our allies and upholding the principles of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law on the global stage. U.S. taxpayers are understandably wary of sending billions of dollars outside of the country without knowing how it is being utilized, if it’s making a difference and when the mission will be accomplished. The U.S. has a role to play in international conflicts, not as a world police, but as a beacon of hope and a leader in promoting peace, stability, and democratic values.

    We should responsibly use diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian tools at our disposal to support nations like Ukraine that are resisting aggression and seeking to establish and maintain their sovereignty. This approach is consistent with our Utah values of compassion, fairness, and standing up for what is right.

KUER's Sean Higgins, Elaine Clark and Jim Hill contributed to this guide along with independent fact checkers Megan Swan and Allison Shatfer.

This voter guide was produced in collaboration with PBS Utah and America Amplified.

KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.