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Rolly: Can these Republican candidates really run as Republicans? Their own party rules say no

Published June 5, 2017 10:38 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Despite enjoying overwhelming success in elections across the state, the Utah Republican Party continues to act like a circular firing squad.

Its latest faux pas: Most of the candidates filing as Republicans for the 3rd Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Jason Chaffetz are — thanks to an oversight by the new GOP leadership — technically no longer Republicans.

Those technically kicked off the Republican roles include three legislators — Sens. Deidre Henderson and Margaret Dayton and Rep. Brad Daw — who, under the party's bylaws, would have their membership suspended.

That's because the GOP Central Committee last year shifted its rules to require its candidates to submit to the party's website a statement declaring their loyalty to the party's principles and platform.

The change mandated that candidates submit their statements within two business days of the candidate-filing deadline, which for the special election for Chaffetz's seat was May 26. That means they had to have their declarations filed by May 31, given the weekend and the Memorial Day holiday.

Most of them missed that deadline because new party Chairman Rob Anderson and his leadership team got mixed up on the dates and notified the candidates that they had until June 9, which is the deadline for unaffiliated hopefuls to file for office.

The bylaws state that the party chairman shall file an objection with the state about the legitimacy of any candidate who fails to meet the party's rules.

That won't happen.

After the deadline passed, former Utah Republican Chairman James Evans, whom Anderson defeated at the state convention last month, posted on his Facebook page that candidates did not file their party statements on time and therefore cannot — under the rules — be certified as Republicans on the ballot.

But Anderson said once he learned of the error, he notified the candidates and extended the deadline. He told me that they all had filed their declarations by June 2.

The question arises, however, whether Anderson unilaterally can change the Central Committee-endorsed deadline.

If Anderson's generosity to the candidates goes unchallenged, all the contenders will be allowed to continue their campaigns as Republicans.

But the error won't go quietly into the night if the Democrats have anything to say about it.

"The candidates and the new Republican Party leadership have been caught in their own tangled political web," outgoing Utah Democratic Chairman Peter Corroon said in a news release. "Under their party rules, the Republican Party and the lieutenant governor's office have no option but to disqualify the candidates from running as Republicans."

The irony is that some of the candidates — who technically would be thrown out of the party, at least for this election — were among the most adamant for the rule change.

The idea was to force candidates who choose to run in the Republican primary by getting a required number of signatures — rather than face convention delegates — to publicly declare their disagreement with the GOP's official position against the petition path to the ballot.

In the end, all the candidates who have filed as Republicans will get to keep their GOP status, thanks to the benevolence of their newly elected leader, who, by the way, was accused by some of those benefiting from his generosity as not being a pure enough Republican because he had signed the Count My Vote petition, which led to the signature-gathering option for candidates in the first place.

Bipartisan support • Kathryn Allen is a Democratic candidate running for Chaffetz's seat.

Her husband, Craig Fineshriber, recently had knee surgery, and the hospital gave him the same type of knee trolley that Chaffetz used after he had foot surgery.

At least they now have something in common.







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