Utah Policy: In Case Of Chaffetz's Early Resignation, Utahns Want Primary Election

May 17, 2017

Credit gop.gov

Shortly after his Facebook announcement in April revealing that he would not seek re-election in 2018, Rep. Jason Chaffetz told major news outlets that he may even step down early, prompting state leaders to consider a special election.

A new UtahPolicy.com poll shows that 3 out of 4 Utahns favor the two-track system established by S.B. 54 in 2013 where candidates earn a spot on the primary ticket through either a party convention or by gathering signatures. Only 19 percent favored party delegates selecting candidates for the special election.

"If Chaffetz were to step down, you’re looking at the possibility that the seat could open for four months, five months, maybe six months," said Bryan Schott, managing editor of UtahPolicy.com.

If the Governor decided to pursue a primary election, Schott stated that a federal law requiring 45 days before an election would create a time concern.

"So, you have 45 days before a primary election and 45 days before a special election, that’s at least 90 days and it would likely take longer in order to allow signature gathering candidates to get their signatures -- get certified on the ballot," he said.

Schott said allowing delegates to select a candidate would expedite the special election at the risk of polarizing the party.

"You can see that in what happened in the Governor’s race last year," Schott said. "Gov. Gary Herbert lost the delegate vote at the convention to Jonathan Johnson who was much more to the right than Gov. Herbert. But once that got to a primary election, Herbert absolutely crushed Johnson."