Imagine this year’s ballot with no Utah candidates listed as Republicans. Or, alternatively, the ballot listing only those Republicans who gathered signatures, while others who went through the GOP convention are shut out. Republicans say those scenarios are a growing possibility now that the Legislature failed to pass a bill designed to fix problems caused by a recent bylaw change adopted by the Republican State Central Committee. The fix-it bill, HB485, passed the House. It was on the Senate calendar awaiting action Thursday night when the Legislature adjourned as required at midnight — so it died. Now, “I think there’s certainly a cloud over this election,” Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, sponsor of the bill, said Friday.
The questions swirling in the wake of HB485’s demise include which, if any, Republicans eventually may appear on the ballot, whether the party may be listed at all — or whether GOP hopefuls might be forced to run as unaffiliated candidates.
The turmoil stems from a recent party rule change forced through by hard-liners on the GOP State Central Committee that would kick out of the party candidates who gather signatures to qualify for the ballot in some races. Signature gathering, they argue, decreases the power of state delegates and infringes on the right of the party to choose its own nominees