Breaking News: Special Congressional Primaries Deciphered!

Voters are gearing up for a pivotal moment as they head to the polls on Tuesday in two special congressional primaries, ones that will inevitably usher in two fresh faces to Congress, one from the Democratic camp and the other representing the Republicans.

The significance of these primaries in Utah and Rhode Island lies in the strong partisan nature of the districts involved. Barring any unexpected twists during the general election, the winners declared on Tuesday are poised to take their seats in Congress.

Let’s delve into the races:

Utah’s 2nd District: In Utah’s 2nd District, Republican Representative Chris Stewart made the announcement earlier this year of his impending departure from Congress in September. To step into his shoes, Republican voters are faced with a trio of conservative candidates whose positions on critical issues align closely.

When it comes to the economy, government spending, taxes, and the situation in Ukraine, the candidates find themselves largely in agreement. As a result, unique aspects like their 2020 presidential election preferences or their eligibility to be on the ballot have assumed greater significance.

Celeste Maloy, a former congressional attorney for Stewart, enjoys the endorsement of her previous boss in the primary. However, a challenge to Maloy’s eligibility to run arose due to her earlier residency in the Washington, D.C. area while working for Stewart, which had left her unregistered as a Republican voter in Utah. This challenge was subsequently dismissed by a judge.

Candidates in Utah can secure a spot on the ballot through different avenues, either by amassing support from delegates at a special election convention or by collecting enough signatures. Maloy earned her place on the ballot through the convention, while former state legislators Becky Edwards and Bruce Hough, the former Republican National Committeeman and ex-state party chairman, qualified through signatures.

It’s worth noting that Maloy hasn’t participated in a presidential election for several years, while Edwards openly disclosed her vote for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in 2020. Hough has made it a point to emphasize to voters that he was the sole candidate who cast a vote for a Republican in the 2020 presidential election.

The only publicly available poll for this race, released last week, showed Edwards in the lead, though it also revealed that 47% of registered GOP voters in the district remained undecided about their choice.

Rhode Island’s 1st District: On the other side of the country, in Rhode Island’s 1st District, voters are seeking a replacement for former Representative David Cicilline, who left Congress at the close of May to assume leadership of the Rhode Island Foundation. A competitive and sometimes tumultuous primary has drawn nearly a dozen Democratic contenders vying for Cicilline’s seat.

Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos initially appeared to have the edge and secured substantial endorsements from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Bold PAC and Emily’s List. These two groups have collectively invested over $750,000 in TV ads endorsing Matos, as reported by AdImpact. Other notable candidates include former White House staff member Gabe Amo, who enjoys the backing of the Congressional Black Caucus, and former state lawmaker Aaron Regunberg, who proudly touts endorsements from Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Many other candidates in the race hold current positions as state or local lawmakers, including Matos, state Representative Stephen Casey, state Senator Ana Quezada, state Senator Sandra Cano, and Providence City Council member John Goncalves. Unlike concurrent elections, this special election does not put the politicians’ current elected positions at risk, which explains the crowded field.

Similar to the Utah race, there is little divergence among the candidates on key issues, which has shifted the focus toward endorsements, campaign finance matters, and eligibility concerns. Matos’ campaign faced early controversy surrounding fraudulent petition signatures. Although Matos and her campaign staff placed the blame on an external vendor for these errors, her opponents have sought to use this incident to undermine her prospects of securing the Democratic nomination.

Leave a comment