Spencer Cox announced on Wednesday that an election will be held to replace the resigning U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart. This is a move to expedite the state-mandated timeline to make sure the seat of the six-term Republican does not remain vacant more than a couple months.
Stewart, a Republican himself, informed Cox of his intention to resign by September 15. Cox announced that the primary election would be held on Sept. 5, and the general election will take place on Nov. 21,
The governor stated in a press release that 'this timeline will ensure an efficient and smooth transition with minimal disruption of our electoral process'.
Stewart, an author and veteran of the U.S. Air Force, was elected for the first time in 2012. He was reelected last November, and announced that he would resign in order to care for his wife who was sick. Stewart's resignation will leave one less Republican in U.S. House of Representatives. However, it's not expected to have any impact on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his ability to lead a tight Republican majority. Stewart won by over 30 percentage points a Democratic opponent in 2022. The district is reliably Republican.
This could cause a frenzy in Utah among Republicans, who weren't expecting to see a vacancy in the next election. Former state senator Becky Edwards is the only Republican who has announced that she will run for Stewart's position.
Last week, officials from the state said that, in the absence of legislative intervention, a special election would not be possible for at least 90 calendar days. This is likely to change when lawmakers meet for a special session on Wednesday to decide how to fund the election. This will affect local races as well, since they will be shifted to coincide with the race for Utah's 2nd Congressional District. The district stretches from St. George up to downtown Salt Lake City.
House Speaker Brad Wilson, who was referring to Utah’s four congressional seats, said: 'We can't afford to be without a quarter for an extended period of time.' The proposed schedule allows for a smooth transition and only a short period of time without representation.