Utah’s 2nd Congressional District – what differentiates the GOP candidates

Jul 17, 2023, 1:26 PM | Updated: Jan 19, 2024, 11:05 am

SALT LAKE CITY -- If you're relying on debates to get to know the candidates for Utah's 2nd Congres...

Utah's 2nd Congressional District GOP candidates: from left to right, Becky Edwards, Bruce Hough, Celeste Maloy. (Becky Edwards, Bruce Hough, LinkedIn, Celeste Maloy, Ballotpedia)

(Becky Edwards, Bruce Hough, LinkedIn, Celeste Maloy, Ballotpedia)

SALT LAKE CITY — Three Republicans will be on the ballot to replace Rep. Chris Stewart in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District. Here’s how all three candidates differentiate on issues before the Primary election on September 5, 2023.

While each of them shares broad Republican values of smaller government, free markets, fiscal conservatism, and religious liberty. There are policies, experiences, and differences in beliefs between them.

KSL NewsRadio asked each candidate, Becky Edwards, Bruce Hough, and Celeste Maloy for a pitch on what sets them apart.

If this list does not include issues that are important to you, click the candidate’s name to visit their website.

Becky Edwards — Utah 2nd Congressional District candidate

I am a proven, pragmatic leader who has lived in this district for 30 years and served this district in the Utah House for 10 years. I know these people — these are my people this is my district.

Public lands issues and Utah’s 2nd Congressional District“Utah manages our lands better than folks in DC. I’m very supportive of efforts that are being made across our state to work with the federal delegation to try and get Utah to have more control over our lands and management, and make sure that we have access for people to work and graze and enjoy and recreate on the beautiful lands in our state.”

BLM red tape in Utah – “I think federal bureaucracy is a real challenge. What I can say is [we need to] look at innovative ways to utilize land transfers, and coordinating with all of the different agencies is really important. We see this in transfers of SITLA lands, we see this with BLM. I think those kinds of cooperative relationships help people gain increased access and multi-use. That’s the approach that we want to see.”

Reducing Federal Debt – “I’ve balanced over ten statewide budgets for Utah. As a strong fiscal conservative, I’ll work to ensure the federal government cuts wasteful spending and regulations that hurt taxpayers and the economy. My priorities will be reducing the deficit and ensuring we only invest American taxpayer dollars into those essential programs that are critical for a healthy economy.”

LGBTQ+ issues and Utah’s 2nd Congressional District – “Our LGBTQ communities are important members of our state, they are making great contributions. We can do more to make sure that there are opportunities for all members of our state to grow and thrive. Those are focuses that have been important in my time in the House. We can look at some of the work that the state legislature did and the accomplishments we made on non-discrimination in terms of housing and employment. That’s a good model that really reflects, the business and the religious community here in the state. I look forward to having more of those kinds of conversations.”

Preferred Committees – “I look forward to first and foremost being on the Appropriations Committee. Having some strong conversations about getting our fiscal house in order. This is something that both of the past two administrations have really not been cognizant of, and sensitive to. The needs of everyday Americans or everyday Utahns. The impact of strong overreach on the federal level and the inflationary impact of that and out-of-control spending. Those are real things that impact Utah families. The Appropriations Committee is a place I’d really like to take my experience. Having balanced the state budget for 10 years. Being able to parlay that into a position of taking again, those Utah values that Utah experience here representing the people of District 2 in DC.”

Joining the Freedom caucus – “I remain willing to work with all members of Congress for a variety of issues. Just like I did when I was in the Utah House before. You can find areas of commonality with folks on different issues. I think this is what makes me unique, my ability to do this time and time again. I welcome all voices to the table and welcome opportunities to learn and work with all members of my colleagues in Congress.”

Bruce Hough — Utah 2nd Congressional District candidate

In this Republican primary, I’m the authentic Republican. The only one who has actually voted for the Republican presidential nominee in the last election.

Public lands – “We have two issues. One is [the federal government] controls way too much land in the state of Utah. We need to have access to federal lands for grazing, extraction, ranching, and farming. All the things that have been traditional uses of the land, and we need to do it without the BLM [stepping in]. As an example, putting forth new regulations that allow them to do new conservation leases, which is a new rule. They’re overstepping their bounds of authority. These are things that should be legislated and not done with rulemaking. We need to allow those who have been good stewards of the land to continue to use them in appropriate ways.”

BLM red tape in Utah, and the issues and Utah’s 2nd Congressional District – “One of the biggest issues that we can have effect with is to help Congress do their job. Which is to legislate rather than defer these kinds of decision makings to bureaucracies and to regulatory agencies. I think one of the key elements is that we, as legislators, have to rein in these bureaucracies from doing that and have the courage to basically say, ‘No, you’re not allowed to do that, and, by the way, this is an adjacent property that’s privately held, or it’s publicly held within the jurisdictions that are of the state or of the municipality, and that we need to give proper credence to their role as local government.'”

“The other thing is, we need to find ways to access more of the federal land that is landlocked through exchanges and trades and other access methodologies because there is so much of this federal land that simply is not accessible. It was only intended to better education in the state, and much of it is not available to do any of that. This is a unique Western problem because the federal government decided that they will continue to control those federal land. When in the eastern United States, they did what was constitutionally required, which was to give those to the states to administer and operate on.”

Federal Debt issues and Utah’s 2nd Congressional District – “[We need to change] some of our government spending. I mean, for example, in the area of the Education Department. It’s not a department we can get rid of without 60 senators, but we can block grants differently to states and to local school districts, and have greater control. There are a number of things we can do in terms of elimination of waste. There are so many ways we can slow the growth of government. We could spend two hours just making a big list of items.” 

“The real key is to find people of like mind who understand that the deficit is not sustainable and that we have to slow the growth down. I’m not saying stop the growth of government. If we even went to 1% growth we could start reducing the deficit immediately, and get a little further under control. So incrementally making those changes, where we’re not trying to change. As I say, it’s better to win a lot of skirmishes, than to try to win a war that you just can’t win in the current political environment.”

LGBTQ+ issues – “The fundamental point here is that we just have to start with a basis of loving all children of God. So that’s where we start. But that being said, we have to also protect parental rights, the rights of the family. To make sure that those are not abrogated. In terms of federal law, I think that everything that needs to exist probably exists currently. They can simply be enforced. Everyone should have, the right to medical care and housing and there shouldn’t be discrimination in these areas. But in other areas, we need to make sure that parents have the right to make sure how their children are educated. What they’re taught and how those functions ought to be done.  Those are really issues that are local issues and shouldn’t be federally mandated.”

Preferred Committees – “There’s a number that I think are very interesting, that would serve the state. Natural resources, certainly. In the areas of military, Davis County has a lot of people who depend on Hill, I have experience in that area as well. I’ve always been someone who felt like being a good steward of the land is important. So I think those are two key areas. Obviously, it would be awesome to be involved in appropriations… through the (agriculture) department that helps regulate the FDA, and provides funding for the FDA, and agencies like that. That’s a huge part of what the state is involved with both in the biotech industry and the nutritional supplement industry. There are a number of those kinds of areas. ”

“The fact that Chris Stewart has been on appropriations, wow wouldn’t that be a nice thing to be able to continue that, that access? There are a number of these committees that I think would be very valuable to the state, and that are certainly in the sweet spot of where I can provide service.”

Joining the Freedom caucus – “That would not be my intent [to join.] I think that, you know, there are caucuses in a number of areas, but that one, I don’t think, actually produces results that I’m interested in at this stage. I think their original intent to be more constitutionally oriented is probably positive. But I’m just concerned that the tone and temperament and tolerance for the things that are being done or are not really where I want to be. I do think that tone is important. I do think that temperament is important. And I do think that tolerance is important and seeking to understand other people’s points of view is important. So that we can reason together and come up with solutions.”

“I like the one caucus that is labeled, the solutions caucus. I think that’s one that might be of interest to me with some further investigation. Let’s focus on the things that we can agree on but also focus on where we can create solutions. We can’t change a lot of things until you have 60 senators in place. So let’s focus on the things that we can work together on to solve some of the problems that this country is facing which of course is slowing the government’s growth down. And getting our fiscal house in order and making sure that we take care of regulatory overreach.”

Celeste Maloy — Utah 2nd Congressional District candidate

I’m like the people in this district. I know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck. I know what it’s like to live in the district, and I’ve been fighting for the district.

Public Lands issues and Utah’s 2nd Congressional District- “[The federal government is] not just too involved in public lands, but is too involved in Utahns lives. I mean, through the administrative agencies and administrative rules and regulations. Local governments have to involve the federal government in too many of their decisions from, siding roads, to permitting powerlines, to settling questions of wetlands and waters of the US. It’s just cumbersome, and it makes it a lot more difficult for local governments to govern.”

Federal Debt – “My plan is simple: defund anything any agency is doing that is outside their statutory authority. Congress delegated authority to executive branch agencies through statute. Congress needs to defend the boundaries of that statutory authority through the power of the purse. After that, I’m willing to look at whether the statutory authority needs to be reduced. This plan has the added benefit of also addressing government overreach.

BLM red tape in Utah – “This is what I’ve been doing for the last several years as the deputy county attorney and also working for Congressman Stewart. Sometimes, the agencies just get bogged down in the regulations. It takes somebody getting in and working with them and helping them sort through it, keeping the pressure on to keep things moving. Sometimes it takes somebody going in at the higher levels of the agencies and putting on pressure to get the locals to move, and I’ve done both.

LGBTQ+ issues – “I don’t know how many more laws we need. Gay marriage has been legal in this country for seven years. The Respect for Marriage Act says if the Obergefell decision is ever overturned, then the federal government is going to respect marriages that are performed by states. As far as the issue, though, I think everyone’s entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If you’re gay, and you believe in smaller government, I welcome you to come work with me on that. At the same time, I also defend the rights of religious people and religious organizations to teach that marriage is between a man and a woman. I think there’s enough freedom to go around.

Preferred Committees – “House Natural Resources and House Armed Services. Natural resources is a good fit for me, it dovetails nicely with my strengths and my experience. It’s also really important to our district. Armed services is important to the state and we don’t have anybody on there right now. We’re vulnerable if we don’t have anybody looking out for the military installations we have.”

Joining the Freedom caucus –  “I’ve been asked that every time I’ve talked to a group and I’ve consistently said I won’t. I’ll work with him when I agree with him, but I don’t plan on joining the caucus.”

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Utah’s 2nd Congressional District – what differentiates the GOP candidates