SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 2, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — A federal judge has ruled that the state of Utah must list Jim Bennett’s name on the ballot for the 3rd Congressional District election.
The decision, barring a successful appeal, means that Bennett — a member of the new United Utah Party — will be listed along with Democrats, Republicans and other party candidates on November’s special election ballot to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who resigned from the position.“I’m over the moon and on the ballot,” Bennett said.
District Judge David Nuffer said in his ruling that he found the state had no justification to exclude the United Utah Party from the special election.
“Although party formation was omitted from the special election procedures, they made every reasonable attempt,” Nuffer wrote in his decision. “Though they were rebuffed in their early attempts to form a party and designate a candidate, the plaintiffs have demonstrated compliance with reasonable expectations.”
The state elections office refused Bennett’s attempts to file as a candidate because Utah had not certified the status of the United Utah Party. The UUP responded by filing an injunction intended to keep the state from denying Bennett’s listing on the ballot.
“The election office was not required to take 30 days to review the UUP petition,” Nuffer wrote. “But it did, even though the work could have been completed in two days.”
The UUP’s status was finally certified last week.
“The state’s interests do not require or justify effectively barring UUP and its candidate, Mr. Bennett, from participating in the special election as a new political party,” Nuffer wrote in his judgment.
Bennett already had been campaigning without knowing if he would be on the ballot. Because he is running unopposed in his party, he does not have to participate in the Aug. 15 primary election.
Bennett told reporters fundraising has been difficult because he was not on the ballot. His hope is to appeal to people like himself who cannot fully support Democratic or Republican agendas.
“It just so happens I’m not a Republican or a Democrat,” he said Wednesday. “I’m a Uniter.”