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Governor Herbert Exploring Process For Special Election To Fill Third District Vacancy

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Julia Ritchey / KUER
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Gov. Gary Hebert speaking to reporters at KUED's monthly news conference.

Gov. Gary Herbert says his office is already preparing to hold a special election to fill the U-S House seat in the 3rd Congressional district. Representative Jason Chaffetz announced today that he will leave office next month. 

Gov. Herbert says he thinks a primary and general election could be conducted fairly quickly to fill the 3rd Congressional district seat, leaving it empty for just two to four months.

“I understand the importance of getting it done quickly as opposed to taking too much time, but I also believe that we want to get it right, which trumps doing it quick,” he said.

Speaking to reporters at his monthly KUED news conference, Herbert said it was only the second time in state history a vacancy had occurred.

Current state statute requires that the governor call a special election when there’s a vacancy, but the law does not include a plan for conducting one.

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes and other state lawmakers have urged the governor to call a special session in order to give them more input on the timeline and process for narrowing down candidates.  

But Herbert said a special session is unnecessary because the state constitution gives the executive branch the authority and latitude to make the rules.

“We don’t have consensus with the legislators on what they want, in fact, passed in special session.  We have special sessions usually when we have unanimity on what we want to have passed. This ought not to be a free-for-all," said Herbert.

Herbert said his responsibility is to ensure that any election conforms to the state constitution and statutes, and keeps the voters of the 3rd district enfranchised.

Congressman Chaffetz notified Gov. Herbert that his final day in office will be June 30.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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