Utah to hold elections for incumbent seat in November

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said Wednesday that the election to replace resigning U.S. Representative Chris Stewart will take place in the fall, accelerating the deadline mandated by state law. to ensure that the six-term Republican seat does not sit vacant for more than a few months.

Stewart informed Cox, also a Republican, that he planned to step down on September 15. Cox issued a proclamation setting the primary election for September 5 and the general election for November 21.

“This timeline will ensure a smooth and efficient transition with minimal disruption to our electoral process,” the governor said in a statement.

Stewart, a US Air Force veteran and author, was first elected in 2012. He won re-election in November and announced last week that he planned to step down to help care for his wife, who he said was ill. Although Stewart’s departure will mean one less Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, it shouldn’t affect House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ability to lead a tight Republican majority. The district is reliably Republican, and Stewart beat a Democratic challenger by more than 30 percentage points in 2022.

The vacancy could spark a frenzy among Republicans in Utah, who did not expect to have an empty congressional seat in next year’s election. Only one Republican candidate, former state senator Becky Edwards, has officially announced her intention to run for Stewart’s seat.

State officials said last week that absent legislative intervention, state law requires at least 90 days before a special election is held. This will likely be reviewed when lawmakers meet for a special legislative session next Wednesday to allocate funds for the election. The accelerated schedule will also affect local races, which will be moved to coincide with the race to represent Utah’s 2nd congressional district, which stretches from St. George to downtown Salt Lake City.

“We cannot afford to go without a quarter of our representation for an extended period of time,” House Speaker Brad Wilson said, referring to Utah’s four congressional seats. “The proposed schedule will allow for a smooth transition and only a brief period without performance.”

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