Judge denies request to pull Celeste Maloy from special election ballot

Jul 31, 2023, 10:46 AM | Updated: 5:34 pm

celeste maloy pictured, a lawsuit against her was heard today...

Congressional candidate Celeste Maloy speaks with the Deseret News editorial board at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 30, 2023. (Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A judge denied the request to temporarily remove congressional candidate Celeste Maloy from the ballot in the race to replace Congressman Chris Stewart, R-Utah, this morning. 

That means, unless an appeal is filed, Maloy’s name will stay on the ballot in the 2nd Congressional District special election. 

What does the lawsuit say?

Quinn Denning, who Maloy beat out at the Republican party convention, sued Maloy and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson over Maloy’s registration status. The suit claimed she wasn’t a registered Republican on the day she filed her candidacy and that Henderson violated state law when she certified her candidacy.  

The judge’s reasoning

Judge Andrew Stone sided with Maloy’s lawyers when explaining that just because Maloy wasn’t properly registered didn’t mean she wasn’t a member of the Republican party. 

“I think it is stretching it a bit thin to conclude that registration equals membership, or that registration is a prerequisite to membership,” Stone said.

He also concluded that it was too late in the special election to upset the election.

“I think the public interest favors respecting the party convention’s choice,” Stone said. “I think the public interest favors not upsetting an ongoing election process.”

Maloy’s registration status was in question because she was on a removable voter list when she filed to run. Because of this, Denning’s team argued that Maloy should never have been certified.

“The Lt. Governor’s office call[ed] Ms. Maloy on the 15th of June and [said] ‘hey you’re not registered, which is akin to saying you’re not a Republican,” Chad Shattuck, a lawyer for Denning, argued.

But Lowry Snow, Maloy’s lawyer argued that just because her registration status wasn’t up to date, didn’t mean she wasn’t a member of the Utah GOP.

“The Utah Republican party is the gatekeeper of membership and its own organization and affirmed Ms. Maloy’s membership,” Snow told the judge.

“There was no rule, regulation, bylaw of the party, constitutional provision in the Utah republican party, that would have terminated her membership from the party based on that inactive registration,” he later argued. 

After the hearing, Denning was asked if his team planned to appeal the ruling. He declined to comment.  

Late in the day Monday, Lt. Gov. Henderson spoke out and said the ruling was “a win for the rule of law.”

“Lawsuits, such as this one, that are driven by politics and false accusations instead of facts, are an enormous waste of government resources and taxpayer money,” Lt. Gov. Henderson wrote. “We look forward to this case being dismissed entirely and encourage the petitioners to withdraw any further costly litigation. In the meantime, we will continue to faithfully execute the law and administer the special election.”

Related: The Utah Debate Commission will not hold GOP special election primary debate

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Judge denies request to pull Celeste Maloy from special election ballot