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Utah GOP to File Lawsuit Challenging SB54

Brian Grimmett
File: Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans speaks at the state party convention

Leaders of the Utah State Republican Party are filing a lawsuit challenging the legality of  SB 54. The legislation passed this year changes the state’s caucus/convention system for nominating political candidates.

In a statement sent to KUER, Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans says the lawsuit should be seen as a friendly attempt to clarify the Constitutional boundaries between the state and political parties. He argues that the state should not be able to tell individual political parties how to elect their candidates.

Legislators passed SB 54 in an attempt to make a compromise with the Count My Vote group that was working to move the state to a direct primary system through a ballot initiative.  SB 54 allows candidates to bypass Utah’s current caucus/convention system by gathering a certain amount of signatures from people registered with their political party.

Kirk Jowers is a co-founder of Count My Vote. He says if the state GOP were going to file a good faith lawsuit, they should have done it months ago.

“To do it now is really bad faith," he says. "It will cost the state a lot of money, both from the preparation point as well as, it will be our Attorney General’s office with our Lt. Governor’s Office that will have to defend it.”

In the past, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has voiced his support for the caucus/convention system. But in a statement from his spokesperson, Missy Larsen, Reyes says he has recused himself from any state party business involving the lawsuit, and that his personal beliefs will not get in the way of defending Utah’s laws. 

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