SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s sped-up special election to replace Jason Chaffetz in Congress doesn’t seem to allow enough time for new political parties to get on the ballot, including one recently formed by the son of a former U.S. senator, a federal judge said Friday.
Judge David Nuffer said at a hearing Friday that he’s not ready to rule on whether he’ll order state officials to include Jim Bennett, the son of the late U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, and his United Utah Party on the November ballot. But he intends to make a decision soon, Nuffer said.
Bennett contends in lawsuit that Utah elections officials violated his constitutional rights by telling him they didn’t have time to verify his new United Utah Party, a centrist alternative in the GOP-dominated state. His father served 18 years in the U.S. Senate as a Republican before he was ousted in 2010.
Utah’s elections office said there wasn’t time to accommodate Jim Bennett and his new party without shutting out other potential United Utah candidates or delaying the entire election.
Chaffetz made a surprise announcement May 18 that he was resigning at the end of June. Utah elections officials announced May 19 that candidates who wanted to run as a political party’s nominee had one week to file their candidacy with the state, starting that day.
On the last day of the weeklong filing period, Bennett and his United Utah Party submitted documents to create the party and run Bennett as the party’s first candidate.
The Utah lieutenant governor’s office, which oversees elections, said it couldn’t certify the party in time and couldn’t allow a candidate to run as a party’s nominee if the party didn’t officially exist.
Nuffer said Friday that the special election timeline set by Lt. Gov….