Utah House race: Trump-backed incumbent falls into recount territory against challenger

Celeste Maloy is narrowly leading Colby Jenkins, who is supported by Sen Mike Lee

The Republican primary race for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District has now entered recount territory as Trump-endorsed incumbent Celeste Maloy – with all counties reporting – is only leading challenger Colby Jenkins by just 214 votes. 

Unofficial results from Utah show that Maloy captured 53,748 votes – about 50.10% – compared to the 53,534 votes received by Jenkins, which amounted to 49.90% of all ballots cast. 

Utah state law says "if the difference between the number of votes cast for a winning candidate in the race and a losing candidate in the race is equal to or less than .25% of the total number of votes cast for all candidates in the race, the losing candidate may file a request for a recount."

The development comes after Maloy received former President Trump’s "complete and total endorsement" against Jenkins, who is backed by Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee. 


Utah House debate

Rep. Celeste Maloy, R-Utah, listens as Colby Jenkins speaks during Utah's 2nd Congressional district debate on Monday, June 10, at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (Scott G. Winterton/The Deseret News via AP, Pool)

"Congresswoman Celeste Maloy is a great advocate for the wonderful people of Utah's 2nd Congressional District!" Trump had written in a Truth Social post in mid-June. "Celeste is fighting to Secure the Border, Create Jobs, Restore American Energy Independence, Support our Military/Veterans, Defend Religious Liberty, and Protect our always under siege Second Amendment." 

Maloy is the incumbent in the race after winning a special election last fall. Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, resigned from the seat that he had held since 2013 due to his wife’s illness. 

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, the state’s chief election officer, told The Associated Press that the recount process may begin after the statewide canvass on July 22. Jenkins will have a week to file a formal request, and the recount must be conducted within a week of that submission, she said. All ballots will be recounted, all uncounted ballots will be reexamined and election officials from each county will tabulate their results. 


Mike Johnson and Celeste Maloy

U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., and Rep. Celeste Maloy, R-Utah, arrive for a photo-op for her ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 28, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Jenkins, a retired U.S. Army officer and telecommunications specialist, defeated Maloy earlier this year at the state GOP convention, but he did not win by a wide enough margin to bypass the primary. 

A primary victory for Maloy would notch Trump his only win of this election cycle in Utah. 

Maloy, who lives just north of Zion National Park in Cedar City, began her career at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, working to conserve natural resources, improve water quality and manage nutrients in the vast farmlands of southwest Utah. As an attorney, she specialized in public land issues involving soil and water and land ownership. In her brief congressional tenure, she has served on subcommittees focusing on water resources and rural development. 

Utah Rep. Chris Stewart addresses supporters at an election night party

Then-Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, talks to supporters during an election night party on June 28, 2022, in South Jordan, Utah. (AP Photo/George Frey)

Jenkins repeatedly attacked Maloy on the campaign trail for voting in favor of recent bipartisan spending bills. The congresswoman defended her voting record, noting that those deals were negotiated by U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, who she said is the "most conservative speaker of the House we’ve had in my lifetime." 

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