A ballot initiative aimed at giving candidates a path to get on the ballot without going through the caucus and convention process is temporarily on hold while supporters work out language for the effort.
Jeremy Roberts, who planned to file the initiative with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Monday, said that after The Salt Lake Tribune reported the plan, there was a massive outpouring from groups across the political spectrum that wanted to be involved.
As a result, he said he is delaying the filing of the initiative to make sure everyone agrees with the language. Roberts said he expects to launch the effort after hammering out the details, perhaps as early as this week.
Under the proposal, candidates could get on the primary ballot if they are chosen by the caucus delegates at the party’s convention. But it would change the system so a candidate could also get on the primary ballot by gathering enough signatures from registered members of the party.
The winner of the primary would appear as the party’s nominee on the general election ballot in November.
The goal is to give more Utahns a say in who appears on the ballot, rather than the relatively small number of delegates elected at the party caucuses.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said Monday that he would be supportive of efforts to get people involved in the candidate selection process, although he said he wasn’t familiar with the details of the proposed initiative.
“I think any time we can get a broader-based turnout, get more people involved early on in the process, the better served we are as a society,” he said. “I think they’re on to something that is very, very important and very powerful longer term for the next generation of citizens in this state. The system we have now is antiquated and it’s in need of an update.”
Utah Republican Party Chairman Thomas Wright said he is open to ideas that improve the nominating process, but none of the people involved in the proposed changes have talked to him about their concerns and suggested the initiative is more about a payday than politics.
“I quite honestly don’t take this proposal very seriously,” he said. “Most likely this is an attempt to make money for this group of marketers who has worked for countless campaigns and organizations, really anything they can get their hands on.”