SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — It’s Voting Day for Utah’s special primary election. On the ballot for Republicans in District 2 are three GOP candidates hopeful to be placed on the ballot in the General Election in November.
The three candidates – Becky Edwards, Bruce Hough and Celeste Maloy – are looking to replace the outgoing Congressman Chris Stewart, who announced his resignation in May. As hours tick away to the end of the day, it’s still anyone’s race as to who will represent the Republican Party in November.
When speaking with ABC4, Hinckley Institute of Politics Director Jason Perry said 47% of District 2 Utahns haven’t decided on who to vote for.
“That’s a big number, 47%. The reason that’s so interesting is we saw almost the exact same thing that happened in 2017 in the 3rd Congressional District,” said Perry, noting that number could easily swing the vote. “It was just under 50% that didn’t know as well, and a lot of those broke down for John Curtis, and so we’ll see if that happens again.”
For those who had decided, Perry said Becky Edwards held a lead at 32% followed by Bruce Hough at 11% and Celeste Maloy at 9%. Perry told ABC4 the short timeline of the election made it particularly difficult for candidates to inform voters of who they are, meaning the election defaults to “name ID.”
So who is running in the Republican Special Primary Election for the 2nd Congressional District seat? ABC4 sat down with each candidate so you can be informed.
Becky Edwards earned her way onto the primary ballot after gathering enough signatures to qualify her for the ballot. She told ABC4 she believes the race comes down to experience.
“I’ve lived in this district [for] 30 years. Ten of those years I served my neighbors and folks around my area in the Utah House from 2009 to 2018 and I think that track record of being able to get things done as a commonsense conservative really is something that is resonating around the district,” said Edwards.
Edwards said she has always been solutions-oriented in every aspect of her career. She told ABC4 she has been able to work on issues around education and the workforce, keeping Utah as one of the strongest economies in the country. Once in D.C., she aims to be positioned on committees for armed services, natural resources and financial services. But her top priority in D.C. would be to tackle spending.
“Things are just too expensive right now. It has to do with inflation. It has to do with reckless spending from Congress,” Edwards said. “They hold the purse strings and it impacts all of us.”
You can view ABC4’s full profile on Becky Edwards here.
Bruce Hough gathered enough signatures to qualify to be placed on the ballot for the Special Primary Election. He told ABC4 that his lifetime of business experience makes him the candidate to fill the 2nd Congressional seat. Federal budget and reigning in spending would be a top priority if elected.
“[It] has taught me what it means to have a budget and to live by it,” said Hough. “When we look at Congress and we look at the state of the federal government today, they need some help on actually doing budgets and following them. So, spending is part of the reason I’m in this race.”
Hough said he has long served the State of Utah as a volunteer and as an elected official. He was a representative of the state on several committees and as GOP chair in the 90s. He told ABC4 that a key thing to taking on the toxicity and divisiveness in Congress is finding common ground and taking an “Orin Hatch-approach.”
“I think what we need to do is get to a point where we try to understand each other. Understand their values and their interests,” said Hough. “Take away the positions for a minute and really get to know people in a way that we can develop some trust. I really believe there is a lot of productive conflict that can place in Congress.”
You can view ABC4’s full profile on Bruce Hough here.
Maloy made her way onto the primary ballot after winning the vote at the Republican Party Convention in June. Maloy worked as Congressman Stewart’s legal counsel, which she said gave her first-hand experience in Congress.
“I’ve spent a lot of time doing policy work,” Maloy told ABC4. “I got interested in politics through policy, and I got interested in policy through frustration with politics.”
Maloy said she knows being in Congress is a wearing job but she knows that when Congress works together, it can make people’s lives better. She said disagreement can help come up with better ideas but as long as the Republican party agrees on the platform, a lot of good can come out of it. One of her top priorities, if elected into D.C., is to reign back federal government overreach.
“People are tired of the federal government being so involved in their lives. It spans a wide range of issues from what kids are being taught in school to road maintenance in rural Utah to being able to provide clean, safe drinking water in a lot of the municipalities,” said Maloy. “The executive branch is really big, it’s really powerful, and it’s involved in people’s lives in ways I don’t think it was ever supposed to be.” Maloy hopes to use the legislative branch to act as a check on federal agencies.
You can view ABC4’s full profile on Celeste Maloy here.
The winner of Tuesday’s primary election will go onto the ballot in November, where they will face Kathleen Riebe (D), Cassie Easley (Constitution), Brad Green (Libertarian), January Walker (United Utah), Joseph Geddes Buchman (I), and Perry Myers (I).
Republican Utahns in District 2 can vote in the primary election until polls close at 8 p.m. MT. To find a voting location near you, visit the Vote Utah website.