SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Margaret Dayton announced she would no longer seek re-election and would be resigning from the Utah State Legislature for medical reasons.
Sen. Dayton, R-Orem, is the longest serving woman in Utah legislative history. She leaves office in June having served 22 years in the state legislature.
“This was not an easy decision, but due to recent medical issues I will not be able to give my full attention to representing the citizens of Utah Senate District 15,” she said in a statement released Thursday.
A firebrand conservative on Capitol Hill, Sen. Dayton was known as “Utah’s Iron Lady.” She said she has always stood alongside conservatives throughout the state in advocating for “less government and more individual responsibility.”
“Although my 22 years of service in the Utah Legislature represents the longest tenure for a female legislator in Utah’s history, I’m a strong believer in meritocracy. I believe gender does not qualify – nor disqualify – a person for public office. I feel confident the voters of Senate District 15 will elect the person who will best continue to represent our strong conservative values,” Sen. Dayton wrote.
Sen. Dayton faced challengers from within her own party in her re-election bid. Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo, had announced his intention to run for her seat. She also faced Emily Ellsworth, a civic engagement advocate. (No Democrats entered the race.)
Ellsworth tweeted her reaction to the news on Thursday.
Sen. Dayton ran for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District seat after Jason Chaffetz quit to go be a FOX News pundit. One of her challengers for the seat, Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, also offered her well wishes.