Scott G Winterton
Jim Bennett, executive director, talks as a citizens’ group announces the formation of the United Utah Party — a new political party in Utah that aims to appeal to moderate Republicans, Democrats and independents who are dissatisfied with the current two-party system — during a press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 22, 2017.
SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge ordered the state Wednesday to put the fledgling United Utah Party’s candidate on the November special election ballot for the open 3rd Congressional District seat.
That means, barring a reversal on a possible appeal, the party’s nominee, Jim Bennett, will be vying with Democratic, Republican and other party candidates to replace former GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
“I’m over the moon and on the ballot,” Bennett said.
Bennett, the son of the late Republican Sen. Jim Bennett, said he will now mount a “full-fledged” campaign. He said fundraising has been his biggest difficulty and potential donors have told him to talk to them once he gets on the ballot.
“I have a lot of people I need to get back to,” he said.
In a 50-page ruling, U.S. District Judge David Nuffer found the state has no justification to exclude the United Utah Party from the special election and that it violated Bennett’s free speech and equal protection rights. Bennett’s diligence in trying to meet the state’s requirements to organize a new political party weighed heavily in his favor, according to the judge.
“Although party formation was omitted from the special election procedures, they made every reasonable attempt….