Incumbent Republican Rep. Celeste Maloy lost to her Sen. Mike Lee-endorsed challenger Colby Jenkins, 57%-43%, at the Utah GOP nominating convention on Saturday — just five months after being elected to replace her former boss, Rep. Chris Stewart, in a special nominating convention last November.

By securing at least 40% of the vote, Maloy will advance to a vote-by-mail primary on June 25 where she and Jenkins will face off again before all registered Utah Republican voters. As with her first run for office, Maloy chose not to gather signatures in her first reelection bid, placing her electoral future entirely in the hands of state delegates, some of whom were the same that sent her to Washington, D.C., in 2023.

“Representing you is a sacred privilege. And I don’t take it for granted. That’s why I refuse to be a rubber stamp. I will not bow down to anyone. I’m not going to bow down to the party, to leadership, to the media, or to a Senator,” Maloy said. “I humbly ask you to support me again. I trusted you. I didn’t gather signatures. I ask you to trust me with a full term in Congress.”

In a move that shocked many Republican leaders in the state, Lee endorsed Jenkins, an army veteran, to unseat his fellow Utah lawmaker. The surprise announcement came just two days before the state GOP nominating convention and follows a vote by Maloy on legislation Lee opposed.

Maloy voted in favor of a FISA 702 amendment that Lee supported requiring a warrant for intelligence agencies to access American’s private information. But after the amendment failed in the House, Maloy voted for the bill’s reauthorization without the warrant provision.

Rep. Celeste Maloy, R-Utah, the incumbent candidate running for the 2nd Congressional District, speaks at the Utah Republican Party state nominating convention at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 27, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

Two weeks later, Lee weighed in on Maloy’s Utah congressional race by endorsing Jenkins and lending his face and name to Jenkin’s campaign. In social media posts and at the convention, Lee implied his decision was based on Maloy’s vote and that he wanted Republicans in Congress who would oppose unconstitutional measures at all costs.

Prior to the first and only round of voting, Lee took the stage with Jenkins to loud applause.

“What we need now in Washington more than ever is a warrior. Now we happen to have an actual warrior here,” Lee said on the convention stage. “We have a chance to make a difference and Colby Jenkins is that difference.”

Jenkins, a former U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret colonel, voted for Maloy in the special nominating convention in June. But he soured on the new representative after learning about her presidential voting record and seeing her voting record on key legislation, he previously told the Deseret News.

“What we just saw from our Senator to endorse me against an incumbent in his own state party takes a unique kind of courage,” Jenkins said.

After Lee and Jenkins descended from the stage, Utah Republican Rep. Burgess Owens appeared before delegates to defend his colleague’s congressional work ethic and to call on delegates to allow her to continue on House committees, like transportation, that benefit Utah.

“I trust Celeste (Maloy), to her credit,” Owens said.” Give her back to D.C. so she can finish this work as my teammate.”

During her six months in office, Maloy has introduced legislation — with Lee — to transfer some federal lands to Utah and voted against further military aid to Ukraine.