Former GOP congressional aide Celeste Maloy wins Utah House seat

Utah Republican Celeste Maloy will be the newest member of Congress, bringing the House back to its full complement of 435 members.

Maloy defeated Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Riebe and a handful of third-party candidates in Tuesday’s special election in Utah’s 2nd District, according to The Associated Press. Former GOP Rep. Chris Stewart stepped away from his seat earlier this year.

Maloy, a former congressional aide to Stewart, prevailed in September’s competitive primary over other high-profile candidates, despite being relatively unknown to voters. During her campaign, she leaned on her grassroots connections in rural southern Utah, as well as her experience in Washington.

Maloy’s win in the general election did not come as a surprise, given the district’s makeup. UT-02 is a sweeping district that covers parts of Democratic-leaning Salt Lake City, as well as swaths of rural land in the southern and western part of the state. Then-President Donald Trump won the district by double-digits in 2020.

Maloy said her messaging emphasized curbing inflation and government overreach, and she avoided “red-meat issues that people get wound up about.”

“I hope Republicans learn that you can still win running on the issues,” she said in an interview with POLITICO prior to her win. “I think that’s a message that we should be using more nationally. We should be talking about core conservative values. The issues that divide Republicans shouldn’t be the center of all of our campaigns.”

Maloy overcame controversy when opponents unsuccessfully tried to kick her off the primary ballot after they learned that she wasn’t registered to vote as a Republican in Utah when she filed to run for the seat.

She will be the first woman in Utah’s congressional delegation since 2019 and the fifth in its history.

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