Trump endorses Rep. Celeste Maloy for reelection, putting the former president at odds with Sen. Mike Lee

“Congresswoman Celeste Maloy is a great advocate for the wonderful people of Utah’s 2nd Congressional District,” Trump said on Monday.

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Rep. Celeste Maloy in her 2024 primary election contest with Republican challenger Colby Jenkins — putting Trump on the opposite side of Sen. Mike Lee, a Trump loyalist who has ardently backed Jenkins.

“Congresswoman Celeste Maloy is a great advocate for the wonderful people of Utah’s 2nd Congressional District,” Trump posted on his social media platform Truth Social on Monday.

The former president, and likely GOP nominee, touted how Maloy was fighting for border security, job creation, energy independence, veterans and defense, religious liberties and protecting the 2nd Amendment.

“Celeste Maloy has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Trump posted.

Maloy told The Salt Lake Tribune she is looking forward to “working with President Trump to advance the conservative agenda and strengthen America’s position as a world leader.”

[READ: Utah GOP congressional candidate won’t say if he’d certify a Biden presidential win]

In response, Colby Jenkins said in a statement that having the president endorse an incumbent member of Congress “isn’t a huge surprise.”

“What is surprising is that he chose to endorse someone whose support of Trump is comparable to Mitt Romney’s,” he said. “Celeste Maloy is a Never-Trumper who has referred to President Trump as a dictator. Until about five minutes ago she refused to even mention the name ‘Trump’ and she didn’t even bother to vote in the last presidential election. It appears that her declining poll numbers have caused her to have a change of heart.”

The backing of Maloy by the former president comes on the heels of Maloy’s endorsement on Thursday by her three Republican colleagues in the U.S. House — Reps. John Curtis, Blake Moore and Burgess Owens.

That had created a split in Utah’s delegation, with Lee throwing his “full support” behind Jenkins just ahead of Utah Republican’s nominating convention in April.

“Too many Republicans in Congress have voted to expand the size, scope, and cost of the federal government, in many cases deferring to congressional GOP leaders bent on advancing the Democrats’ agenda,” Lee said in a statement announcing this endorsement. “Now more than ever we need bold conservatives in Congress. We need Colby Jenkins.”

[READ: Here’s Celeste Maloy and Utah GOP primary challenger Colby Jenkins views on wars in Ukraine and Israel]

Lee showed up at the convention and campaigned for Jenkins, and Maloy defiantly alluded to Lee’s backing in her convention speech. “I will not bow down to anyone,” she said. “I’m not going to bow down to the party, to leadership, to the media, or to a senator.”

Damon Cann, a political science professor at Utah State University, called the Trump endorsement “a significant boost for Celeste Maloy,” and reassure some Trump supporters who were considering backing Jenkins.

“Mike Lee’s endorsement of Maloy’s opponent was curious from the beginning. It came out of the blue, nobody was expecting it, no one had a heads up. ... Its so weird,” Cann said. “I think one thing that might have had some influence on [Trump’s decision] is the rest of the delegation came together behind Maloy. Having Curtis and Moore and Owens all come out and say we’re supporting her, circling the wagons around her, was kind of a signal.”

About an hour after Trump announced his endorsement, Lee responded with a post on X, formerly Twitter, featuring a video clip of “The Kool-Aid Man.”

“Now more than ever, we need lawmakers in Congress who won’t drink the Swamp Kool-Aid,” Lee said — reference to the Jonestown Massacre, where more than 900 people died, most of them after drinking a poisoned beverage, making it one of the largest mass murder-suicides in history.

“Colby Jenkins doesn’t even like Kool-Aid,” Lee posted. “In fact, he’s allergic to it. Fight Lawmaking Under the Influence of Kool-Aid (“LUIK”). Elect @ColbyforUtah.”


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