The 2018 election kicked off Tuesday — at least unofficially.
Less than two months since Utahns voted in November, candidates can start declaring that they will try to gather signatures to get on the primary ballot. By the close of the second day of the filing period this week, at least 41 individuals signed up.
Among them? The state’s newly-elected Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, who also collected signatures to run in last year’s special election to replace former Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
“I strive to continue to serve each and every one of my constituents while finding new ways to remain accessible,” Curtis wrote on Facebook about his decision. “I’m proud to represent Utah and the 3rd Congressional District, and I’m proud to launch our campaign to continue doing so in 2018.”
There’s also newcomers Mitchell Vice, Alicia Colvin, Jay Hiatt and L’Capi Titus seeking the Senate seat Orrin Hatch will vacate early next year. And 27 incumbents from the Utah Legislature joined the list (20 of them Republicans), including Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo, who’s now bidding for a state Senate seat currently held by fellow conservative Margaret Dayton.
Among them, too, is Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, who has opposed SB54, the compromise measure that allowed candidates to gather signatures to make the ballot.
“We heard stories about people claiming to be gathering signatures door-to-door for purposes other than what it was for,” he told a committee last year while arguing against the law.
During the 2016 election — the first year candidates could qualify for the primary through signature-gathering — 90 people declared their intent to get on the ballot through the new route. That year, though, included the race for governor and other statewide offices, so state elections director Justin Lee says it’s not a direct comparison.
“We’re not surprised at what we’re seeing,” he said.
It’s also possible that Curtis’ success with the alternative method could embolden more candidates to try gathering signatures. That’s yet to be seen, and more candidates may still choose to go through the convention.
Candidates also have the option of both gathering signatures and seeking the party convention nomination.
Those running for Utah House need 1,000 verified signatures, Utah Senate 2,000, U.S. House 7,000 and U.S. Senate 28,000. The filing window closes March 15.
Here’s a list of who has filed an intent to gather signatures, so far:
•John Curtis (R) for District 3 (incumbent)
•Mitchell Vice (D)
•Alicia Colvin (R)
•L’Capi Titus (R)
•Jay Hiatt (R)
•Val K. Potter (R) for Utah House 3 (incumbent)
•Greg Merrill (R) for Utah House 4
•Steve Handy (R) for Utah House 16 (incumbent)
•Raymond Ward (R) for Utah House 19 (incumbent)
•Jacquelyn Orton (D) for Utah House 24
•Darin Mann (D) for Utah House 24
•Ryan Parker (D) for Utah House 24
•Jen Dailey-Provost (D) for Utah House 24
•Joel K. Briscoe (D) for Utah House 25 (incumbent)
•Mike Winder (R) for Utah House 30 (incumbent)
•Craig Hall (R) for Utah House 33 (incumbent)
•Karen Kwan (D) for Utah House 34 (incumbent)
•Mark Wheatley (D) for Utah House 35 (incumbent)
•Patrice Arent (D) for Utah House 36 (incumbent)
•Nikki Cunard (D) for Utah House 45
•Robert Spendlove (R) for Utah House 49 (incumbent)
•Susan Pulsipher (R) for Utah House 50 (incumbent)
•Tim Quinn (R) for Utah House 54 (incumbent)
•Brian Greene (R) for Utah House 57 (incumbent)
•Val L. Peterson (R) for Utah House 59 (incumbent)
•Francis D. Gibson (R) for Utah House 65 (incumbent)
•Mike McKell (R) for Utah House 66 (incumbent)
•Merrill Nelson (R) for Utah House 68 (incumbent)
•Christine Watkins (R) for Utah House 69 (incumbent)
•Carl Albrecht (R) for Utah House 70 (incumbent)
•Gene Davis (D) for Utah Senate 3 (incumbent)
•Jani Iwamoto (D) for Utah Senate 4 (incumbent)
•Karen Mayne (D) for Utah Senate 5 (incumbent)
•Kathie Allen (D) for Utah Senate 8
•Clare Collard (D) for Utah Senate 12
•Daniel W. Thatcher (R) for Utah Senate 12 (incumbent)
•Keith Grover (R) for Utah Senate 15 (incumbent in the House)
•Jerry Stevenson (R) for Utah Senate 21 (incumbent)
•Stuart Adams (R) for Utah Senate 22 (incumbent)
•Joni Crane (R) for Utah Senate 26
•Evan Vickers (R) for Utah Senate 28 (incumbent)