Jim Bennett, the son of former Utah Sen. Bob Bennett, has a new political party, and he wants it on the ballot in the Utah special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
Bennett is suing the state of Utah to get on the ballot with United Utah Party next to his name, after state officials ruled in May that there wouldn’t be time to verify the 2,600 signatures gathered to create the new party before the election.
Bennett could have appeared on the ballot as unaffiliated, but he said, “I’m not unaffiliated and I don’t want to run and pretend that I am.” He had already been preparing to launch his new party, but moved to begin sooner to take advantage of the special election. “One of the reasons I’m running is to introduce this party and its principles to the state of Utah,” he said.
The United Utah Party aims to be a centrist alternative in the Republican-dominated state, though its platform does not contain elements that would be out of place in a Republican platform, with the exception of support for increased education spending.
The party is arguing that the Utah Elections Office violated the Utah Elections Code and the 1st and 14th amendments to the Constitution.
“The message could not be clearer. The Utah Elections Office does not want us on the ballot. They do not want us competing,” said United Utah Party Chairman Richard Davis.
“They have abused their power and violated the U.S. Constitution and Utah statutes by treating us in this manner,” he continued. “That’s why we have reluctantly concluded that we must sue for our rights and the rights of Utah voters to choose our candidates.”
Bob Bennett served in the Senate for 18 years before being defeated by two tea party candidates at the Utah Republican Convention in 2010. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2016.