Celeste Maloy deserves hearty congratulations for her victory in Tuesday’s election, becoming Utah’s newest representative in Congress from the 2nd District and the fifth woman to represent the state in the House.

When she is sworn in, she will become the 151st currently serving woman in the House and Senate, a new record.

As she has alluded to many times, her rise is an example of American egalitarianism, an almost Horatio Alger-like story of rising from humble beginnings. 

Raised in a mobile home in a speck of a town in Nevada, her road to Congress is an example of how anyone in America can rise above his or her circumstances. But that statement can belie the hard work it took for her to earn a law degree and land a job as chief legal counsel to Rep. Chris Stewart, whose seat in Congress she will occupy. Maloy, who comes to Congress with bonafides, begins her tenure with a great deal of Washington experience already on her resume.

She also begins by assuming the remainder of the term Stewart was serving before he resigned. That means she will have less than a year to campaign for reelection, and she will need to focus on bringing real results to voters who will get to consider her again next fall.

We also congratulate state Sen. Kathleen Riebe, Maloy’s Democratic opponent, for waging a strong campaign.

Celeste Maloy: The country girl running for Congress
Celeste Maloy wins 2nd Congressional District race; Kathleen Riebe concedes

Maloy won on every level, from the state Republican convention to the primary and general elections, despite being a relatively unknown newcomer to state politics. From now on, she will have a record on which to run. 

At a time when many in Congress are prone to name-calling and political bombast, Maloy won with a mild voice and a campaign mostly devoid of attacks. Despite identifying as a staunch conservative, she has said she has no interest in joining the Freedom Caucus, which pushes the agenda of the far right in ways that often are more obstructionist than helpful. 

That is good to hear. It demonstrates a greater willingness to seek real results than to gain media attention. It is evidence of the type of seriousness needed to confront the problems facing the nation.

Maloy has emphasized states’ rights and public land issues, for which she has an expertise. These are important matters for rural Utah, where federal ownership of land can interfere with energy extraction and other uses important to local economies. 

A big part of her campaign involved personal visits with community and county leaders throughout the district. Her ability to continue that strategy will be important, as it gives a voice to parts of the state that have felt frustrated by edicts from faraway Washington.

Maloy also must be a steady voice for fiscal restraint at a time when the national debt and interest payments on that debt are rapidly growing. One member of Congress can do only so much, but every voice for responsible spending is important, particularly as deadlines for the end of the current continuing budget resolution loom.

Maloy has expressed interest in serving on the Natural Resources and Armed Services committees. The latter would bring her face-to-face with important issues regarding national security, giving Utah an important voice.

Much has been made of how Maloy won on the strength of southern Utah voters. This may signal a political sea change in terms of the power of the rapidly growing St. George and Cedar City areas. Early results showed her gaining 71% of the vote in Washington County and 74% in Iron County. 

She also gained 63% of the votes in northern Utah’s Davis County, but only 27% from the part of the district that includes Salt Lake County. 

As a representative, she must work to further the interests of every part of her district, of course. All four Utah representatives must deal to some extent with a mix of urban and rural issues. Perhaps the burgeoning political power of Washington and Iron counties will change that equation when districts are redrawn in 2030.

Much of that depends on whether Maloy can continue to count on those areas for reelection, and on whether she can deliver for her constituents. We wish her the best in that endeavor.