Utah's new, largely unknown representative

Published: Sunday, Nov. 11 2012 12:03 a.m. MST

Stewart describes himself as "mainstream conservative Republican." He said he didn't run as a tea party candidate, nor did he sign pledges that would limit what he would or would not support in office. He said he recognizes his limitations as a freshman congressman and will support House leadership in reaching across the aisle.

But he also believes Congress is made up of individuals like him who must put a serious effort toward moving beyond gridlock and establishing valuable policy.

"We want to go back with a clean slate, being able to do anything we can to make things better," Stewart said. "The biggest thing is let's fix (the deficit). Let's do something structural. Let's do something strategic that actually addresses these things rather than fiddle around the edges."

Stewart described election night as bittersweet, saying he was thrilled to see 2-to-1 returns in his race but discouraged in the national election. It's clear, he said, with the Republican wins in the House of Representatives and the Democratic wins in the Senate, that the American people voted for a balance of power in Washington.

Now, Stewart said, it's the responsibility of those elected to work together for the common good.

"I think all of us feel like gridlock has not been good for us," he said. "The challenge is to take that balance of power and not turn it into gridlock, but to actually be able to accomplish, legislatively, things that are good for the American people. … We just haven't done a good job of doing that."

Looking ahead, Stewart said he will spend a good portion of the next two months in Washington, preparing himself as much as possible to hit the ground running. He also said that while much of his staff had taken Nov. 7 off to be with their families, they would soon be back to work preparing for the transition.

"One thing we've got to do is figure out how to pick up 5,000 signs that are scattered across the state," he said.

Email: benwood@desnews.com

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