A federal judge Monday permanently barred the state from forcing political parties to hold open primary elections and dismissed all other claims in the Utah Republican Party’s lawsuit. As U.S. District Judge David Nuffer closed the case, the Utah GOP and the state continued to wrangle over the meaning of part of the law, setting the stage for another court battle, possibly before the Utah Supreme Court. Meantime, Gov. Gary Herbert told the Republican State Central Committee over the weekend that he wishes he would have vetoed the controversial new election law and let voters decide the issue as proposed by the Count My Vote initiative.
“Unfortunately, instead of uniting us all together, the change has created divisiveness with one lawsuit after another,” Herbert’s spokesman Jon Cox said Monday. “In hindsight, the governor believes the public should have voted on the Count My Vote petition to settle the issue once and for all.”
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox in a letter last week disagreed with the Utah GOP’s reading of sections of the law about the paths candidates may take to get on the primary election ballot.
The law clearly states that the choice belongs to the candidate, and that the state would allow candidates to go through the convention, gather signatures or both, he wrote.