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Republican Rep. Chris Stewart to Resign, Shifting Utah Politics and Narrowing GOP Majority

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In a significant development for Utah politics and the Republican Party, R-Utah Rep. Chris Stewart, a six-term lawmaker representing Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, is reportedly planning to resign from Congress before the end of the year. The decision is said to be driven by his wife’s illness, which necessitates his departure from the House of Representatives.

The resignation of Rep. Stewart would leave a vacant seat on the House Appropriations and Intelligence committees and further narrow the already slim GOP majority, reducing it to just four seats.

Furthermore, under Utah law, the governor must call for a special election to fill the House vacancy. Once Stewart formally announces his resignation, Republican Gov. Spencer Cox will have seven days to determine the schedule for a special election. Unless the state legislature allocates funds for a separate election, the dates for the special election are likely to coincide with this year’s municipal primary and general elections, according to reports from Fox News.

Given the district’s historical Republican leanings, a Republican candidate is anticipated to be favored. Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses western Utah from the Salt Lake City metro area to St. George, is a stronghold for the GOP. Stewart secured a resounding victory, defeating Democratic challenger Nick Mitchell by a substantial margin in the 2022 midterms.

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, will face tight margins when rallying votes as he can only afford to lose three Republican votes on any legislation. Existing disagreements within the Republican Party have already jeopardized the passage of certain bills.

Rep. Stewart’s retirement not only has implications for Congress but also reshapes the political landscape in Utah. Speculation had surrounded Stewart’s potential bids for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mitt Romney. The plans have seemingly come to a halt due to his wife’s illness which in term is providing opportunities for other Republicans to enter the political fray.

This announcement marks the second time in six years that a Utah congressman has resigned, following former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s departure from office in 2017. Chaffetz’s resignation led to a special election and created a vacancy in the crucial position of House Oversight Committee chairman.

As Rep. Stewart prepares to step down from his congressional duties, attention turns to the upcoming special election and the potential impact it will have on Utah’s political landscape and the dynamics within the Republican Party.

Follow Alexander Carter on Twitter @AlexCarterDC for more!

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Elections

BREAKING: Hunter Biden Found Guilty on All Three Felony Charges

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Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, was found guilty on all three felony charges on Tuesday. After a six-day trial, a jury concluded that the first son lied on a federal gun-purchase background-check form by falsely claiming he was not a drug addict. The jury deliberated for three hours, starting Monday afternoon following the conclusion of closing arguments.

Hunter Biden was convicted on two charges for lying about his crack-cocaine addiction on federal gun paperwork when he purchased a Colt Cobra revolver on October 12, 2018. Additionally, he was found guilty of a third charge for possessing the firearm while addicted to crack cocaine.

According to National Review, the criminal trial exposed deep rifts within the Biden family. Hunter’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, and his deceased brother Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie Biden, testified against him. This created an emotional divide within the family, especially when Naomi Biden, the eldest daughter of Buhle and Hunter, testified for the defense, pitting mother against daughter.

Federal prosecutors Derek Hines and Leo Wise led the case against Hunter Biden as part of special counsel David Weiss’s legal team. Throughout the trial, Weiss was present in the courtroom, often seen conversing and eating chocolates during breaks.

Prosecutors presented what they described as “overwhelming evidence” of Hunter Biden’s drug addiction at the time he completed the gun purchase. This evidence included witness testimony, text messages, videos, images, bank records, and excerpts from Hunter’s memoir. Key testimonies from Hallie Biden, gun salesman Gordon Cleveland, and ex-girlfriend Zoe Kestan were crucial in establishing Hunter Biden’s pattern of drug use and his decision to lie about his addiction.

Defense attorney Abbe Lowell argued that Hunter Biden’s behavior had improved around the time of the gun purchase, asserting that he did not “knowingly” lie on the federal paperwork. However, the testimonies of Kestan and Cleveland, along with Hunter Biden’s own admissions of drug use in texts and memoir excerpts, posed significant challenges to the defense’s narrative.

Throughout the trial, Lowell conducted extensive cross-examinations of the prosecution’s witnesses and disputed the context of the evidence presented. However, Leo Wise’s cross-examination of Naomi Biden, where he scrutinized her text messages with her father from October 2018, proved to be a pivotal moment, undermining her defense testimony.

Before the verdict, President Biden stated he would respect the jury’s decision and would not pardon his son if convicted. At the trial’s onset, President Biden issued a statement expressing pride in his son’s efforts to overcome his drug addiction.

Hunter Biden is scheduled to face another trial in September on nine federal tax charges related to his alleged failure to pay over $1.4 million in taxes over four years.

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