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Rep. Chris Stewart will resign his seat on Sept. 15, Gov. Cox announces special election dates

SHARE Rep. Chris Stewart will resign his seat on Sept. 15, Gov. Cox announces special election dates
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, speaks during an interview at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, speaks during an interview discussing his proposed legislation to make it illegal for social media platforms to be accessed by those under the age of 16 at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.

Ryan Sun, Deseret News

Rep. Chris Stewart will resign his 2nd District seat on Sept. 15, according to a letter he sent Wednesday to Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.

Cox then announced that a special primary election would be held on Sept. 5, and the general election to fill the seat would be held Nov. 21.

“This timeline will ensure a smooth and efficient transition with minimal disruption to our electoral process. We understand these are unusual circumstances and appreciate the efforts of our municipalities and county clerks in accommodating this election schedule,” said Cox in a press release. “Rep. Stewart has represented our state with integrity and dedication, and we’re grateful for the honorable way he’s executed his duties and represented the people of our great state.”

Stewart’s letter to the governor was brief. After saying when he would end his service he wrote of his gratitude for his time in office.

“It has been one of the great honors of my life to serve the good people of Utah in Congress. My family and I have been very blessed by this experience,” he wrote.

In an earlier statement, Stewart said he was resigning from his seat because of his wife’s health concerns.

A spokesperson for Stewart did not respond to a request for comment late Wednesday.

With a narrow Republican majority in the U.S. House — Republicans hold 222 seats to Democrats’ 212 — Utah Republican lawmakers have an incentive to fill the seat quickly.

After receiving Stewart’s resignation letter, Cox issued two proclamations Wednesday, one that lists the dates for the special election, and another calling for a special session of the legislature to appropriate the funds necessary to pay for the changes.

The special session will be held next Wednesday, June 14, the press release says.

Under current state law, the earliest a primary election could have been held was March 2024. Cox and other state lawmakers said they wanted to avoid keeping the seat vacant that long.

Earlier this week, Cox told reporters he wanted to keep the vacancy in the seat “as short as possible.”

“If we have to change the law to do that, we’re willing to call them into a special session,” he said.

On Wednesday, Utah Senate President J. Stuart Adams said it “makes sense to fill the position as quickly as possible.”

“With this special election, Utah will only be without full representation for a short time. Congressman Stewart is a dedicated public servant, and I thank him for his service to our state and nation,” Adams said.

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, who has announced he is exploring a Senate run, said, “Adjusting the election timeline will ensure Utahns have their voices fully represented in our nation’s capital.”

He also expressed his admiration and best wishes for Stewart.