Utah’s political landscape is heating up as the special election primary to replace the retiring U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart approaches. This pivotal election is not just about choosing a new representative but also serves as a barometer of Republican sentiment towards the former President, Donald Trump, who faces a string of indictments while eyeing a 2024 presidential run. Let’s delve into the race, the candidates, and the underlying dynamics.
The Candidates: A Trio of Choices In this high-stakes election, Republican voters in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District have three distinct candidates to choose from:
1. Becky Edwards: A Trump Critic with a Vision
- Former state lawmaker Becky Edwards is known for her criticism of Trump’s influence in the GOP.
- Edwards believes it’s time for Republicans to consider other candidates for the 2024 presidential race, signaling a potential shift in party dynamics.
- During her 2022 primary run against Sen. Mike Lee, Edwards questioned Trump’s efforts to discredit the 2020 election results.
2. Celeste Maloy: Stewart’s Chief Legal Counsel
- Celeste Maloy, former chief legal counsel to Rep. Stewart, has received Stewart’s endorsement.
- Trump and the indictments have not been central issues in her campaign.
- Maloy has suggested that the Justice Department may be selectively charging Trump for political reasons.
3. Bruce Hough: A Long-time RNC Committeeman
- Bruce Hough boasts over a decade of experience as a committeeman for the Republican National Committee.
- He participated in a debate where the federal indictments against Trump were discussed.
- Hough emphasized the importance of accountability and equal treatment under the law.
Trump’s Influence in Utah: A Complex Relationship Utah’s political landscape presents a unique challenge for Trump and his brand of politics. While he won the state in 2018 and 2022, his demeanor clashes with the state’s political and religious culture. More than half of Utah’s residents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Republican U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, a prominent Trump critic, is among the members of the faith. This dynamic adds complexity to Trump’s influence in the state.
Campaign Finances: Edwards Takes the Lead
- Becky Edwards has raised the most money among the candidates, with $379,000 in contributions, along with a personal loan of $300,000.
- Celeste Maloy outraised Bruce Hough in contributions, but Hough loaned his campaign over $334,000.
Historic Potential: A Female Representative for Utah
- If elected, Becky Edwards or Celeste Maloy would make history as the only woman in Utah’s congressional delegation and the fifth in the state’s history.
- Mia Love, the state’s most recent female U.S. representative, served from 2015-2019 and was Utah’s first Black congresswoman.
Shaping Utah’s Political Future As Utah’s special election primary approaches, it serves as a crucial test of Republican sentiment towards Donald Trump and his ongoing influence in the party. The chosen candidate will not only represent the 2nd Congressional District but also play a role in shaping the future of Utah’s political landscape. The voters’ decision on Tuesday could offer valuable insights into the state’s political direction in the years to come.