Republican Rep. Chris Stewart, currently the longest-serving U.S. House member from Utah, will face a challenger within his own party in the state’s newly drawn 2nd congressional district.
Salt Lake attorney Erin Rider, who describes herself as a lifelong Republican and conservative, launched her campaign against the five-term congressman on Wednesday. She aims to be the first candidate to force Stewart into a primary election.
“To me, this election is about the future of the Republican Party. We have to decide who we are and what it means to be Republicans in Utah,” she said.
The Republican Party needs to get back to its core values, Rider said, including fiscal responsibility, national debt reduction and balanced budgets — all issues Stewart ran on in his first race in 2012 but didn’t. disregarded, according to Rider. Stewart, she said, had 10 years to deal with these issues and “so far, we’re here.”
” It’s time to change. We have a new neighborhood, new borders. We cannot hope to bring new people to the party, we cannot hope to bring young voters to the party if we keep electing the same old tired politicians,” she said.
Rider, 38, said she was grateful for Stewart’s decade in power, but there was little to show for it.
“People are frustrated. They feel like they have a disconnected rep who doesn’t care and spends more time trying to find their way to another type of job, and that’s not the point. We need people who actually care about voters and are here and actually engage with voters,” she said, pointing to Stewart’s lack of public meetings last year.
Stewart was recently considered the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. The position went to another member of Congress.
Stewart campaign spokeswoman Rhonda Perkes said the campaign welcomes anyone interested in improving the lives of Utahns and looks forward to honest and productive dialogue.
“Congressman Stewart has worked tirelessly to ensure Utah’s values are reflected in our nation’s capital: freedom, opportunity and individual choice,” Perkes said. “We are confident that the great people of Utah will once again recognize this work and will once again recognize Congressman Stewart as their best representative.”
A strong supporter of former President Donald Trump during his tenure, Stewart said there was ample evidence to question the results of the 2020 presidential election and joined other members of the GOP House to oppose Pennsylvania election votes.
Rider said she did not vote for Trump, who hinted he would run in two years, in the 2016 or 2020 elections.
“If he runs, then we watch him. But this race is about Congress,” she said.
The Republican Party has strayed from its core conservative values, she said. Utah, she says, is a great place to live — “everyone in the nation knows that” — in part because of the state’s values. She said it was time to get back to making “smart” policies.
“Honestly, I’m a little tired of being the no party,” Rider said. “If all we can do is point fingers at the other side, that seems a bit of a losing strategy to me.”
The first-time candidate listed financial issues, including inflation, rising house prices and student debt, among her top concerns. She said it’s hard for people to move forward when they’re stuck under a mountain of debt.
Congress, she said, needs to get spending under control and balance the federal budget.
Rider, who filed with the Federal Election Commission, has raised $113,000, all through individual donations, since late last October, according to his year-end financial disclosure report. Former Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller, president of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, has donated up to $8,700 to her campaign.
Rider hired and paid for a signature collection company to secure a spot on the Republican primary ballot. She will also try to win the GOP nomination at the party’s convention under Utah’s two-track system.
Rider practices corporate law in Salt Lake City. She served as a law clerk for retired GOP Senator Orrin Hatch on the Senate Finance Committee. She earned a business degree from Brigham Young University and a law degree and master’s degree in business administration from Georgetown University.