Timeline set to replace Chaffetz, critic says plan has 'legal risk'

Timeline set to replace Chaffetz, critic says plan has 'legal risk' (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) An elections plan has now been revealed to replace Jason Chaffetz in Congress, but legislative leaders cast it as overreach by Gov. Herbert.

"You have to have an election," said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who unveiled the plan at the governor's direction. "So we're going to move forward, and we'll see what happens."

Bottom line: voters may get more say in choosing Chaffetz's successor, while the role of political parties could be limited. Specifically, candidates will have the option of collecting 7,000 signatures to get on the ballot, and it's likely there will be two special elections: primary and general.

Here are some key dates:

  • May 26, deadline for candidates to file to run
  • June 12, deadline for candidates to submit petition signatures
  • June 19, deadline for parties to nominate candidates
  • August 15, primary election.
  • Nov. 7, general election

Cox held hope the framework will boost voter participation, and save money, since the elections coincide with already scheduled municipal races.

But leaders in the Legislature, from both parties, said Herbert is trying to do their job.

"The governor really can't go out and create a process," said Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, Utah Senate president, adding the action does not track with "statutory" authority.

"So is this plan illegal?" 2News asked.

"I couldn't comment on that," Niederhauser said. He said legal action could happen, though not from him.

"As far as the Senate is concerned, we will not sue," he said. "That will only bring more problems."

The announcement came just after 11 a.m. At 1 p.m., the Lt. Governor's Office, which oversees elections in Utah, began accepting papers from candidates.

The first was Carl Ingwell, a Democrat, who said he's been a community organizer, and worked in local politics for the last 10 years.

He may be a long-shot in a district, considered to be as rock solid Republican as any.

But Ingwell seemed undeterred, even optimistic.

"I think as long as we can reach out to voters on both sides of the aisle, I think we have a really good chance."

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