With just over a month until the special general election to replace former Rep. Chris Stewart in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, a new poll shows how the vote is shaping up.
On Wednesday, the Utah Debate Commission said that only those candidates who received over 10% support in its poll are eligible to participate in the special election debate on Oct. 26 in the PBS Utah studio.
The debate will be moderated by Mary Weaver, director of the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service at Southern Utah University.
The poll, conducted by Lighthouse Research, surveyed 528 registered voters from the 2nd Congressional District from Sept. 26 to Oct. 6. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.26 percentage points, which allows candidates polling 5.74% or higher to qualify for the debate.
Who is participating in 2nd District debate?
Republican candidate Celeste Maloy, who served as counsel for former Rep. Chris Stewart for four years, garnered 42.8% of the support. She won the Republican special primary election on Sept. 6.
Utah state Sen. Kathleen Riebe, who represents Utah’s 15th District and earned the Utah Democratic Party’s nomination for the special election, came in second with 34.28%.
Who did not qualify for the debate?
Brad Green, a Libertarian businessman, earned 5.68% support, just barely under the threshold.
Meanwhile, the candidates who didn’t qualify include the unaffiliated Joe Buchman, who has run unsuccessfully in a few races, as well as January Walker, the United Utah Party candidate. Both of them earned less than 3% in the poll.
Enoch resident Cassie Easley from the Constitution Party and Perry Myers, the CEO of Belle Medical, a beauty spa in St. George, earned less than 2% support.
Nearly 9.28% of voters said they were undecided.
How does the Utah Debate Commission determine who is eligible to debate?
The debate commission uses polling as a qualifying limit to allow for meaningful discussion within the time constraints set by a televised broadcast, it said in a press release.
The Commission on Presidential Debates set the precedent for using poll results as a participation metric, but it uses 15%, a threshold 5 points higher than UDC’s.
The Utah Debate Commission did not hold a primary debate for this special election. Commission board co-chairman Wayne Niederhauser told KSL News in July that the commission didn’t have enough time to prepare, plus the costs were high.
“Resources are always a factor like any nonprofit organization,” said Niederhauser. “We not only have to plan for the special election but also for an election year in 2024.”