SALT LAKE CITY — Incumbent Rep. Chris Stewart appears to be on his way to a fifth term in Congress in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District.
The Republican congressman leads Democrat Kael Weston and Libertarian J. Robert Latham by wide margins in early voting returns, with Stewart claiming 56% of the vote shortly after 8 p.m.
Weston had 41% and Latham 4%.
Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said during the campaign that dealing with pandemic — specifically how to reopen the nation’s schools, get people back to work and make businesses profitable again — is the most important issue facing the country. He also said the nation needs to find a way to unite and put aside political differences.
“It’s discouraging for most of us to see how divided we are. I think it’s dangerous for us. It’s not just discouraging. It’s actually to the point of being dangerous for our future,” he said. “We sink together if we don’t figure out a way to not be divided into tribes, where if someone differs with you politically, they’re a bad person.”
During his current term, Stewart introduced the Fairness for All Act, which combines nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people with protections for people of faith. It would outlaw discrimination against the LGBTQ community in most areas of public life, while also creating safeguards for a variety of religious organizations and individuals, including marriage counselors, adoption agencies and schools.
Last month, President Donald Trump signed another of Stewart’s bills into law, creating a three-digit suicide prevention hotline.
Stewart and Weston agreed on little during the campaign, including whether Trump should get four more years in the White House.
Stewart, a former Air Force pilot, has warmed up to Trump considerably since calling him “our Mussolini” four years ago. The four-term congressman has become a strong supporter of the president.
Weston said the country needs to be repaired and rebuilt, and that can’t happen if Trump is reelected.
Weston ran a sound campaign but faced a steep climb against a four-term incumbent Republican in an overwhelmingly conservative district. He racked up more than 6,000 miles driving his pickup truck to remote locations in the vast district to make his name known and meet with potential voters.
“I’ve done harder things in my life, but I think this one of the most important things that I’ll ever do,” said Weston, who spent seven years working on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan for the State Department
Throughout the campaign, Weston highlighted clear differences between himself Stewart regarding Trump, health care and other issues. He centered his campaign on being better neighbors and putting country over party
“I think one-partyism or one-party rule is bad for everyone, and it’s bad for Republicans, too,” he said.