Celeste Maloy, a former staffer for Utah Rep. Chris Stewart, has won the three-way Republican primary in a special election to replace Stewart after his resignation from office. Maloy defeated former state Rep. Becky Edwards and businessperson Bruce Hough. She will now face Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Riebe in the special general election on Nov. 21 in the reliably Republican district of northern Salt Lake City and parts of western and southern Utah.
Maloy previously served as the chief legal counsel for Stewart, who is resigning from Congress after 10 years due to his wife’s illness. Despite questions about her eligibility because she hadn’t voted in recent elections while living in Virginia, Maloy received endorsements from Stewart and former Utah U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop at the Republican convention in June.
After initially falling behind in the early counting in urban areas on election night, Maloy gained momentum and secured victory with support from voters in rural areas. She expressed excitement about representing rural and southern Utah, promising to build bridges with Republicans and aiming for assignments on the House natural resources and armed services committees.
Edwards conceded the race, while thanking her supporters for their dedication and efforts. She did not mention Maloy. The primary race provided an opportunity to gauge Republican voters’ response to former President Donald Trump’s recent indictments. While all three candidates campaigned on traditional small government and pro-business platforms, Edwards stood out for her anti-Trump stance in a Republican primary for U.S. Senate in 2022.
Maloy, who holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Southern Utah University and has prior experience as a U.S. Department of Agriculture soil conservationist, attributed her success to a campaign focused on rural areas. Her message against government overreach resonated with rural voters.
Stewart, a six-term Republican and Air Force veteran, announced his resignation in May due to his wife’s illness, triggering the special election to fill his seat. He will step down from his position on Sept. 15.