Republican Rep. Chris Stewart hasn’t faced a major challenge since his first campaign for Congress in 2012. That’s expected to change next year.
Erin Rider, a Salt Lake City-based attorney, is challenging Stewart for the GOP nomination for Utah’s 2nd congressional district next year.
Rider is a corporate lawyer at Dorsey & Whitney, focusing primarily on mergers and acquisitions. She previously served as law clerk on the Senate Finance Committee under former Senator Orrin Hatch. She filed as candidate in the 2nd congressional district October 21. She graduated from Brigham Young University and earned a JD/MBA from Georgetown University.
It’s a good bet that Rider will force Stewart into his first-ever primary. Her campaign confirms that she plans to use both signature collection and the convention route for the nomination. If she obtains the required 7,000 signatures, she will secure a place in the primary elections. It would present a new dynamic for Stewart who has never had to run a primary campaign before. So far, Stewart only had to call on the roughly 1,000 Republican delegates to the convention.
Only twice before in his decade-long tenure has Stewart faced a challenge for the Republican nomination. In 2012, he emerged from a crowded field of 11 candidates after a GOP nominating convention filled with shenanigans featuring savage last minute allegations and thinly veiled appeals to faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Last year, he beat three challengers to earn the nomination, including current Utah GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen.
Another new variable that will be added to the mix for Stewart is new boundaries for the 2nd District. Lawmakers will meet next week to vote on new policy lines for the once-a-decade redistricting process.
A source close to Rider’s campaign said she has been fundraising for three weeks and has raised around $40,000 so far. According to his latest fundraising disclosure, Stewart has more than 7 times that amount in his campaign account.
Stewart beat Democrat Kael Weston 59%-37% to win his fifth term in 2020.
Rider is expected to officially launch its campaign later this year.