A Biden-Voting Republican Could Pull Off A Shock Special Election Win In Utah

A Utah Republican who says she voted for President Joe Biden and doesn’t toe the social gathering line on abortion is competing to characterize Utah’s 2nd Congressional District in a little-noticed particular election occurring Tuesday — opening up the potential for a wildcard member of the Home GOP caucus.

The race may put former U.S. Senate candidate Becky Edwards on a glide path to changing into the one Home Republican who says they didn’t vote for Donald Trump in 2020. Edwards could be an excessive outlier within the GOP-controlled Home, the place Republicans are strongly aligned with the previous president.

Edwards topped an early August ballot of the three-person GOP major subject carried out by the Mormon Church-affiliated Deseret Information and the College of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics and launched Monday, creating some nationwide buzz round her marketing campaign. It’s the one public survey of the race to date and confirmed almost half of the respondents had been undecided on whether or not to assist Edwards, RNC committeeman Bruce Hough or lawyer Celeste Maloy. The winner advances to a normal election towards Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Riebe.

Edwards is operating to switch Republican Chris Stewart, who’s leaving workplace this month in the midst of his sixth time period as a result of his spouse’s well being points. His resignation announcement in Could set into movement a particular election for a Home seat extending from the southwestern nook of Utah north to Salt Lake Metropolis.

Since GOP gerrymandering eradicated Utah’s solely aggressive Home seat in 2022, the competition to switch Stewart’s secure Republican seat had gone largely beneath the radar.

However Utah’s second district may find yourself electing one of many decrease chamber’s most fascinating new members: A Republican who expressed issues concerning the Supreme Court docket’s choice to overturn Roe v. Wade and who brazenly urged Republicans to vote for somebody moreover Trump — though neither are points Edwards is placing entrance and heart to voters in a district that features a broad swath of ultra-conservative rural Utah.

Throughout her 2022 major towards hardline conservative Sen. Mike Lee, Edwards stated she noticed “no compelling reason why we need to revisit Roe v. Wade.” Edwards was additionally secretly recorded expressing issues a few set off regulation banning almost all abortions. Edwards instructed the Salt Lake Metropolis Tribune’s editorial board she believes within the “sanctity of life.”

The paper additionally reported that Edwards inspired Republicans to ditch Trump in 2020 and stated that, in contrast to her opponent, Lee, she believed Trump deserved to be impeached for his function in spurring the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol. She later instructed Bloomberg that Utah voters simply “want to move forward” from Trump.

Her opponents and political observers cautioned towards studying an excessive amount of into the only ballot that confirmed Edwards up 20 factors on the remainder of the sector, chalking it as much as her identify recognition and the survey’s poor timing. A consultant for Hough, the RNC member, known as it a “garbage poll” with stale outcomes, whereas Maloy, a former lawyer in Stewart’s congressional workplace who gained the assist of Utah Republican Social gathering delegates, stated her personal assist is “real and growing.”

A whopping 47% of respondents had been undecided, an indication that many hadn’t began listening to the race. The survey ended Aug. 14, the day earlier than voters obtained their ballots. Utah is among the solely states that mail each energetic voter a poll.

Hough, whose personal marketing campaign says it has him main in an inner ballot, has attacked every of his opponent’s voting data, writing on social media that he’s the “only candidate in this race who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020.” Maloy’s marketing campaign didn’t reply to a request for remark about her voting file and the race on the whole.

“I think there may be a bit of a misunderstanding of the type of Republican that Becky [Edwards] is.”

– Chelsea Robarge Fife, Edwards’ marketing campaign communications director

Edwards’ marketing campaign disregarded the implication that she’s not solidly conservative as a result of she doesn’t again Trump, citing her decade within the Utah Home, the place she led the financial growth committee and helped stability the state funds over the last recession.

“I think there may be a bit of a misunderstanding of the type of Republican that Becky is,” Chelsea Robarge Fife, the marketing campaign’s communications director, instructed HuffPost. “Because she has 10 years of service in the Utah House, she has a record that shows where she is and how she votes, and that’s very conservative.”

Her marketing campaign lists a number of priorities — none of that are MAGA-coded. They embody approaching immigration “as a challenging issue that deserves sensitivity and nuance” and realizing that local weather change “poses both opportunities and challenges for our state.”

Robarge Fife stated voters they hear from are most involved concerning the economic system and inflation. “People are really worried about the cost of everything. That’s something we’re hearing everywhere,” she stated.

Matthew Burbank, a political science professor on the College of Utah, stated Edwards seemingly beat her opponents within the ballot as a result of her legislative profession and identify recognition from her Senate marketing campaign, through which she garnered 30% of the vote towards Lee. Maloy seemingly had extra traction with Utah GOP delegates due to her connection to Stewart, who endorsed her as his successor.

“Becky Edwards is clearly a better-known politician, even though she wasn’t that well-loved by the delegates because they didn’t see her as conservative enough,” he stated.

Even so, Utah just isn’t essentially a MAGA state, Burbank stated. He known as Utah Republicans — who elected each Lee, a Trump antagonist-turned-ally and Romney, the one Republican within the Senate who didn’t vote for Trump — “conservative, in the older sense of what that meant.” He additionally famous the affect of former CIA agent Evan McMullin, a protest candidate who mounted an impartial presidential marketing campaign in 2016 and one other for the U.S. Senate in 2022 to siphon votes from Trump and Lee, respectively.

“Trump did not do well in the 2016 primary … and he didn’t do particularly well in the general election,” Burbank stated. “Trump did better in 2020, but he also didn’t carry the state with the kind of numbers that we would expect from an incumbent Republican.”

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