Utah GOP passes bylaw preventing signature gathering

SALT LAKE CITY - A bylaw passed over the weekend by the Utah Republican Party would prevent candidates who gather signatures to get on the ballot from running as Republicans.

Phill Wright, a member of Utah GOP Central Committee, is one of the Republicans who want to see candidates go through the caucus system if they want to run.

“If someone just gathers signatures and goes around those delegates they can’t be vetted. There's no way for the party to protect its integrity,” said Wright.

However, Mitt Romney is currently gathering signatures to become Utah’s next senator. Wright says this new bylaw won’t affect Romney because there is a provision that protects him.

“The only candidates who would even be impacted in 2018 would be the first and second congressional district and both of those candidates have chosen to go through the caucus system convention and not a signature path,” said Wright.

However, not everybody in the Republican Party supports this bylaw, including its own chairman, Rob Anderson.

“It encourages litigation and jeopardizes our candidates and gives us some bad media attention,” said Anderson.

Anderson doesn't believe the party should intervene like this, especially since the issue will be decided in the courts. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule any day now on the legality of Senate Bill 54, which allows candidates to use both paths, gathering signatures or the caucus-convention system.

“The people have shown and the legislature when they passed Senate Bill 54 have shown they want the duel path so more choice and more selection,” said Anderson.

Director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics Jason Perry says this move is all about power.

“They want to keep their stranglehold on the nomination process they've had for a long time. That's what this is about. They're losing their control of the party nomination process,” said Perry.

Lt. Governor Spencer Cox who oversees state election laws is currently reviewing the legality and potential repercussions of the bylaw.