The Utah Republican Party filed a lawsuit Monday against the state’s new rule that allows candidates to bypass the caucus and convention system— a legal challenge to a measure approved by the majority of the state GOP. The measure was a compromise the Republican-dominated legislature reached with Count My Vote, which was gathering signatures for an initiative petition that would have let voters decide to abandon the caucus system. The initiative was backed by several high-profile Republicans including former Gov. Mike Leavitt and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, signed it into law. The law, scheduled to take effect next year, preserves Utah’s caucus-convention system but allows candidates to participate in primary elections as an alternative path if they gather enough signatures. Utah’s current, relatively unique system allows candidates to avoid a primary election if they win their party’s nominations with 60 percent of delegate votes.
The Utah Republican Party filed its long-awaited legal challenge in federal court arguing that the U.S. Constitution ensures political parties the right to choose how it selects its candidates.
GOP chairman James Evans said the lawsuit will bring clarity for everyone about whether the law is legal. “We don’t think the government can reach in and tell us how to select our nominees. The legislature believes that they can,” Evans said. “So, the court is going to establish where those boundaries are.”