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Republican Rep. Chris Stewart plans to leave Congress

Stewart of Utrah said he would resign after "an orderly transition can be ensured."
Rep. Chris Stewart listens during the Weaponization of the Federal Government Subcommittee hearing
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, announced Wednesday he intends to retire from Congress.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, announced Wednesday that he plans to step down from Congress before his term ends because of his wife's health.

Republicans hold a razor-thin majority in the House, and a brief vacancy could make passing legislation more difficult for GOP leadership. Republicans have 222 members in the House; Democrats have 213.

Stewart said in a statement that he would resign after "an orderly transition can be ensured."

“It has been one of the great honors of my life to serve the good people of Utah in Congress,” he said. "My wife and I have made so many dear friends and memories throughout our journey. I can say with pride that I have been an effective leader for my beloved home state, and I’m honored to have played an important role in guiding our nation through some troubled times. But my wife’s health concerns have made it necessary that I retire from Congress after an orderly transition can be ensured."

He added: "My family and I have been very blessed by this experience. Thank you to all those who have supported and sacrificed to help us. The fight goes on. God bless all of you, and God bless our nation."

Stewart did not specify what is wrong with his wife's health.  

Stewart, 62, has been in the House since 2013, representing Utah's 2nd Congressional District. He is on the Intelligence and Appropriations committees.

Utah law requires Gov. Spencer Cox to call a special election for the seat, which represents the western part of the state, including Salt Lake City.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson posted a thread on Twitter on Tuesday explaining the process.

The seat will almost certainly stay in Republican hands. Utah is a deeply conservative state, and the congressional delegation is entirely Republican. Stewart beat his Democratic challenger last year by nearly 26 percentage points.