Republican Celeste Maloy is projected to emerge victorious in the special election held on Tuesday for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, according to CNN’s projections. This win marks the final piece in the puzzle, filling the only vacant seat in the US House of Representatives.
With Maloy’s success, House Republicans will regain a majority of 222-213, providing some breathing room for Speaker Mike Johnson as they approach a critical government spending battle. However, this majority remains narrow and may be subject to change as members contemplate the potential expulsion of Republican Rep. George Santos.
In Utah’s reliably red 2nd Congressional District, Maloy is set to defeat Democratic state Senator Kathleen Riebe. The district covers the western part of the state, stretching from the Salt Lake City area to St. George. She will be succeeding her former employer, former GOP Rep. Chris Stewart, and will become the first woman in Utah’s congressional delegation since Republican Mia Love left office in 2019.
Stewart vacated his office in September due to his wife’s health concerns, and Maloy, who previously worked as counsel in Stewart’s Washington office, secured the GOP nomination with his endorsement. She advanced to the primary after winning a nominating convention in June and subsequently triumphed in a three-way primary race, defeating former state Rep. Becky Edwards and former Utah GOP Chairman Bruce Hough.
During her campaign, Maloy faced questions regarding her eligibility for the special election primary ballot related to voter registration issues. She was marked as inactive in the state’s voter database because she did not cast a ballot in 2020 and 2022, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, after relocating to Virginia to work for Stewart. Nevertheless, the state GOP submitted her name for the ballot, emphasizing that no objections to her candidacy were filed before the convention.
Throughout her campaign, Maloy frequently emphasized her experience as a congressional aide to highlight her prior service to the district and her understanding of how Congress operates.
“Congress is struggling right now. Things aren’t going smoothly,” Maloy stated during a debate last month. “We really need somebody to get into this seat who knows how Congress works, who knows how to work with people, and who already knows this district.”
Maloy, who also made government spending a central focus of her campaign, will now join Congress as it faces critical deadlines in January and February to secure government funding.
“I’m willing to vote for a spending bill that reduces spending,” Maloy stated during the debate when asked about her stance on bipartisan government funding legislation. “As long as we’re cutting spending and moving in the right direction, there’s no need to shut down the government.”
It is noteworthy that a significant minority of House Republicans did not support the stopgap measure passed last week to keep the government operational because it did not include the substantial spending cuts demanded by conservatives and instead extended funding at current levels.