Legislation aimed to thwart a newly passed Utah Republican Party rule threatening to expel candidates who gather signatures to get on the primary election ballot passed a House committee Monday. HB485 would ensure that candidates who have already filed for office would be allowed on the 2018 primary ballot. The measure would ensure that candidates can be on the ballot with their party affiliation, Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, told the House Business and Labor Committee. “We want clarity for this election,” he said. “We want candidates who decided to gather signatures and/or go to convention to feel comfortable with their decision, maintain the status quo.” The committee endorsed the bill 9-3, sending it to the full House for consideration.
The Republican State Central Committee voted to kick out candidates in two congressional districts who choose to collect signatures to gain a spot on the ballot. But Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, have not declared their intent to gather signatures — nor has any other Republican in those two districts.
The possibly illegal rule, though, could also have implications for federal, statewide and state legislative candidates throughout the state. It could also threaten the party’s standing with the state status and puts the party at risk of not getting GOP candidates on the ballot.