Celeste Maloy, formerly an aide to U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, secured the GOP nomination in the deeply conservative district, stepping in to succeed her ex-boss.
In her previous capacity as Stewart’s principal legal advisor in Congress, Maloy triumphed in a competitive three-way GOP primary contest, setting the stage for an upcoming special election. Stewart, a seasoned six-term congressman, announced his retirement earlier this year, citing his wife’s health concerns.
“It’s exciting that we’re going to have somebody come out of this primary that represents rural and southern Utah. I think it’s time for that, and everybody’s ready for it,” Maloy said in a statement on Thursday.
Maloy attributed her victory to the support of grassroots conservatives and the dedication of rural Utah communities. She remarked, “I did debates in the rural counties. I showed up and held events in the rural counties.”
“We decided early on that our strategy was going to be to win the rural counties, and then get as much as we could in the more urban counties,” she added.
The competition presented its share of challenges, with Maloy contending against former state Rep. Becky Edwards and former state party chair Bruce Hough.
Edwards, the runner-up in the race, enjoyed recognition due to a prior attempt to challenge conservative Senator Mike Lee. She positioned herself as a ‘common-sense conservative’ but also vocally criticized former President Donald Trump and admitted to voting for President Biden in 2020, a decision she later expressed remorse for.
During her 2022 primary campaign bid against Republican Sen. Mike Lee, she said during one debate that she didn’t “see a compelling issue to overturn” Roe v. Wade, and if it were overturned, she would “support efforts to support women’s health and support children.”
She also aligned herself with notable anti-Trump Senator Mitt Romney, who voted to confirm Trump’s second impeachment in a failed bid to remove him from office.
“One thing I admire about Mitt Romney is his commitment to follow his conscience,” Edwards told the Tribune last year. “I don’t think he is dictated to by political whims or pressures. And he’s very consistent in his approach. And I respect that.”
However, her message failed to resonate with primary voters.
Maloy received the endorsement of the Utah Republican party and enjoyed support from Stewart and former U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop.