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A Republican lawmaker is planning to resign from the House by year’s end, which will further shrink the GOP’s already small majority.
According to reports, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, a six-term congressman, will leave office by the end of the year due to an illness his wife is suffering. “His resignation would leave open a Republican seat on the House Appropriations and Intelligence committees — and reduce an already narrow GOP majority to just four seats,” Fox News reported.
“Utah law states that the governor must call for a special election in the event of a House vacancy. Once Stewart makes his resignation official, Republican Gov. Spencer Cox will have seven days to set the time for a primary and special election. The law requires those dates to be the same as municipal primary and general elections scheduled for this year unless the state legislature appropriates funds to hold a separate election,” the outlet explained.
“A Republican candidate is heavily favored to fill the vacancy. Stewart represents Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, a reliably GOP constituency in western Utah that stretches from the Salt Lake City metro area to St. George. In the 2022 midterm election, Stewart easily defeated Democratic challenger Nick Mitchell, winning re-election with a landslide 63.4% vote share,” the report continued.
Nevertheless, until a special election takes place, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will face even greater challenges in securing votes. With unified Democratic opposition, McCarthy can only afford to lose three Republican votes on any specific legislation.
Internal conflicts between hard-line conservatives and moderates have already posed a threat to a Republican border security bill earlier this year, and the current disagreements within the GOP over the debt ceiling deal highlight that numerous Republican lawmakers are willing to defy party lines, Fox News added.
Stewart’s retirement will not only impact his own career plans but also reshape Utah politics. He had been widely speculated to be considering a potential run for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Mitt Romney, as well as a potential bid for the governor’s position.
Utah Rep Chris Stewart to resign from House, shrinking GOP majority https://t.co/MWwahZf4Qq
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 31, 2023
However, with his wife’s illness requiring his attention, those plans will be put on hold, presenting opportunities for other ambitious Republicans to pursue those positions, said the outlet.
Stewart, who served in the U.S. Air Force and has authored books, secured his first election victory in 2012. He notably collaborated with Elizabeth Smart, who is prominent in the state, on a memoir recounting her kidnapping ordeal.
The 62-year-old Stewart was also previously considered as a potential candidate for director of national intelligence during the administration of former President Donald Trump. There is not much known about his wife’s condition, the reports said.
“The Salt Lake Tribune first announced Stewart’s plans to resign. His resignation would mark the second time a Utah congressman has left office early in the past six years. Former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz resigned from office in 2017, stepping away from his role as chairman of the House Oversight Committee and prompting a special election,” Fox News reported.
The GOP has held onto a thin majority since retaking the chamber in the November midterms. Then, the party’s lead was padded after an extremely close House race in California was decided, where the GOP candidate managed to eke out a win.
Republican John Duarte won California’s 13th Congressional District after his Democratic rival, Adam Gray, conceded. Duarte won by only a few hundred votes, the Daily Wire noted.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Gray wrote, “After weeks of incredibly hard work by our election workers, the result has become clear. While I had hoped for a different outcome, I accept the results and have called to congratulate my opponent, John Duarte.”