Would-be candidate to replace Jason Chaffetz in Congress sues Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — A man who wanted to run in the special election to replace Congressman Jason Chaffetz has sued the Utah Lt. Governor’s Office after he tried to file to run from China.

Dr. Chia-Chi Teng, a Brigham Young University professor, tried to file electronically in the special election to replace Chaffetz. His application was rejected because he was not physically present to run. Dr. Teng’s attorneys wrote in a restraining order application that he has been in China with a group of students since May 5.

“Dr. Teng attempted to file his Declaration of Candidacy by executing a power of attorney in favor of his son and by being digitally present for the filing via videoconferencing. The State rejected Dr. Teng’s efforts and refused to accept Dr. Teng’s Declaration of Candidacy because Dr. Teng was not present,” the court filing states.

Dr. Chia-Chi Teng in an interview with FOX 13 News.

Dr. Teng previously ran against Chaffetz in last year’s GOP primary but was easily defeated. He is one of two candidates to be rejected to get on the special election ballot, which already has 22 candidates who filed to run. Jim Bennett sought to be a candidate for the United Utah Party, a new centrist party that has yet to be certified. He will instead have to run as an independent candidate.

Chaffetz has said he will resign from office on June 30, having just won re-election last year. The congressman for Utah’s Third District has said he has been having a “bit of a mid-life crisis,” and wants to spend more time with his family.

Dr. Teng’s lawsuit has the potential to halt the special election, scheduled for November. A judge in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court gave the Utah Attorney General’s Office until June 9 to respond. He then scheduled a June 2 hearing on the restraining order request.

The Utah Republican Party has scheduled a June 17 convention to nominate a candidate for the special election.