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Bell drops out; Huntsman outs delegates, Garbett outrages Republicans

Bell out

Matt Bell who was challenging Utah Valley University Vice President Val Peterson (incumbent) for the Republican nomination in House District 59 announced on Facebook that he has withdrawn from the race because he has not lived in Utah for the requisite three consecutive years. This means that Peterson, who voted for the ill-fated tax reform legislation (SB2001) and who has voted to increase state spending by 20% over the past two years will be the Republican nominee. He will be challenged in the general election by Catherine Eslinger, United Utah Party.

Huntsman outs delegates

Jon Huntsman’s campaign is struggling to get on the primary ballot. The signature gathering process has been a goat rope with huge numbers of signatures reportedly being thrown out. An appeal to gather signatures electronically was granted by the State Elections Office; however, that apparently was not the panacea hoped for. This has resulted in a renewed focus on gaining delegate support since Huntsman’s fate could well be determined by the delegates to the State Republican Convention.

In an effort to get the general public to influence Republican state delegates, the Huntsman campaign created a way for people everywhere in the world to access state Republican delegates’ personal information including their e-mail addresses. This was not well received by delegates who signed up to represent their Republican neighbors who elected them in a closed caucus back in 2016. And it raised certain legal questions since the e-mails of registered voters are classified as private records by the state of Utah. However, since the e-mail addresses were most likely obtained from the Republican Party which asserts that voters’ must make their personal identifying information public in order to exercise their right to vote that appears to be a party issue rather than a legal issue.

In any case, when the Huntsman campaign realized that making delegates’ personal identifying information available to the world was not the best way to ingratiate itself to the delegates, it backed off and now requires anyone wishing to lobby a Republican state delegate to contact Julian Babbit by e-mail in order to get the delegate’s contact information. Time will tell exactly how the delegates react to this tactic.

Garbett outrages Republicans

Jan Garbett was a last minute entrant into the Republican gubernatorial sweepstakes which surprised some since she had previously ran as a Utah United Party candidate for Congress. Then, rather than choosing the dual path of the convention and paid signature gathering as most candidates did, she chose to only gather signatures—at the time other signature gathering candidates were closing down their efforts due to the coronavirus.

So, now Garbett has been forced to acknowledge that even with tons of money, gathering signatures electronically is not all that easy. And to make matters worse, a very unhappy Republican who received a postcard from Garbett thanking them for “signing my petition to be Utah’s nominee for governor!” asserts that they never signed her petition and wonders if someone forged their name. So, is this just a one-off, honest error or is there something going on here? Time will tell.

Ronald Mortensen

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