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Celeste Maloy wins Utah special election primary to replace Rep. Chris Stewart

Posted at 6:13 PM, Sep 06, 2023

The Associated Press has called the Republican primary election for the second Congressional District for Celeste Maloy with 38 percent of the vote.

The three-way race between Maloy, former state Rep. Becky Edwards and businessman Bruce Hough tightened late Tuesday night, after Maloy overtook Edwards as numbers from Washington County began to roll in.

Wednesday night, she says she received a phone call from Edwards.

"She called me before she tweeted, so I had a couple of minutes to get myself together before the tweet, but I didn't expect anything to happen today," said Maloy.

During an interview with FOX 13 News Wednesday night, she received a similar call from Hough.

"Bruce Hough just called and conceded and congratulated me and he shares my goal of uniting the Republican party behind the nominee," said Maloy.

Maloy, who told FOX 13 News she considered herself a dark horse candidate, won an upset victory at the Utah Republican Party's convention for the special election back in June.

Two months later, the Cedar City resident is now the Republican Party's nominee for the special general election in November.

"I've said from the beginning that whoever represents this district needs to represent the district as a whole and I absolutely intend to do that, but it has been so sweet watching the support roll in from southern and rural Utah," said Maloy.

Maloy is a former staffer for Congressman Chris Stewart, who is resigning from the seat, midterm, effective September 15.

"So, what you're seeing, I think is the emergence of Southern Utah as a political power for so long, political power seems to have been concentrated in the Salt Lake and suburban areas," said Mary Weaver Bennett, Director of the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service.

Bennett says she anticipated a close race that is representative of the geographic diversity of the state's largest congressional district.

She says this absolutely shows the southern part of the state flexing their muscles when it comes to this race.

"It was a few years ago, St. George area was one of the fastest growing mid-metropolitan area in the country and so growth in population in southern Utah and a growing awareness and having a hometown candidate absolutely shows the power of southern Utah," said Bennett.

For voters in southern Utah, like Beaver resident Bryson Wood, he said he supported Maloy for a variety of reasons.

"One of her big selling points to me was that she will keep our public lands, public," said Wood. "She had the same mindset that people often do in smaller communities, and I think that's why they gravitated towards her."

Maloy says she is a unique candidate with a unique perspective, living in the southern part of the state.

"I've been out talking to voters and especially in rural Utah, they seem to be really excited about having the opportunity to have a representative who has a long drive to the Salt Lake airport just like they do," said Maloy.

Maloy will now face Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Riebe in the special general election on November 21.