Republican Rep. Chris Stewart has never faced a primary challenge since his first campaign for Congress in 2012. That’s likely to change next year.
Erin Rider, a Salt Lake City-based lawyer, is challenging Stewart for the GOP nomination in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District next year.
Rider is a corporate attorney at Dorsey & Whitney, focusing primarily on mergers and acquisitions. She previously served as a law clerk on the Senate Finance Committee under former Senator Orrin Hatch. She filed as a candidate in the 2nd Congressional District on Oct. 21. She graduated from Brigham Young University and earned a JD/MBA from Georgetown University.
It is a good bet Rider will force Stewart into his first-ever primary. Her campaign confirms she plans to utilize both the signature-gathering and convention route to the nomination. If she gets the required 7,000 signatures, she will secure a spot in the primary election. That would present a new dynamic for Stewart who has never had to run a primary campaign before. Before now, Stewart has only had to appeal to the 1,000 or so Republican delegates at the convention.
Only twice before during 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 shenanigan-filled GOP nominating convention featuring wild last-minute allegations and thinly-veiled appeals to faithful members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Last year he bested three challengers to grab the nomination, including now-Utah GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen.
Another new variable that will be added into the mix for Stewart is new boundaries for the 2nd District. Lawmakers will meet next week to vote on new political lines for the once-a-decade redistricting process.
A source close to Rider’s campaign says she has been fundraising for three weeks and has raised about $40,000 so far. According to his latest fundraising disclosure, Stewart has more than 7-times that amount in his campaign account.
Stewart defeated Democrat Kael Weston 59%-37% to win his fifth term in 2020.
Rider is expected to officially launch her campaign later this year.