This year’s election is the first time candidates have been able to gain access to the primary ballot by gathering signatures. And while only a few candidates took advantage of the alternative path, that choice has not gone over well with some Republican leaders.
Xani Haynie is a Republican candidate for state House District 57 in Utah County. In her challenge of incumbent Republican Rep. Brian Greene, she decided it would be best to not only try and persuade delegates at the Utah County Convention, but also to gather signitures.
“Both routes were amazing, but for me I had the opportunity, in January, to go out with my volunteers and most of us, we got the 1000 signatures that we needed,” Haynie says.
Ultimately, she lost at convention and failed to get the 40% of votes necessary to force a primary, but this year, because she gathered the required number of signatures she will still appear on the primary ballot.
But according to Utah County Republican Party Chairman Craig Frank, she isn’t the party’s candidate, Brian Greene is. Frank says under the party’s constitution and bylaws, only a person who gets at least 40% of the delegate votes at convention can be considered a Republican nominee.
“We don’t have the luxury of, on a dime, changing those constitution and bylaws," Frank says. "The outcomes of that election are what they are. These documents clearly state that somebody like Xani doesn’t have rights to that nomination from our party.”
But Haynie says she’s just as Republican as anyone else and former Republican Utah Governor Mike Leavitt agrees. He even spent time on Friday walking the streets of Pleasant Grove campaigning side by side with Haynie.
“You know, people talk about the establishment," Leavitt says. "Well, this is the establishment of the Republican Party, the insider saying we should get to decide who runs for office. It’s nonsense.”
While the Utah County GOP is endorsing Greene as their nominee, the state recognizes Haynie as a Republican candidate and she’ll appear on the primary ballot as one. Primary election day is June 28.