‘The Rundown’: The Utah GOP wants to ditch signature gathering for candidates

Party looks to GOP lawmakers to change the law, but only if the Legislature is ‘all for it’

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Good Tuesday morning Utah! Thanks for reading “The Rundown”.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Carson Jorgensen, center, running for Utah Party Chair, speaks with delegates attending the Utah Republican Party’s 2021 Organizing Convention at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Saturday, May 1, 2021.

The Utah GOP wants to ditch signature gathering for candidates

Last week we told you about some internal drama with the Utah GOP.

At issue was a proposed agenda item to repeal a controversial party rule that said any candidate using the signature route to get on the ballot would forfeit their membership in the Utah GOP. The rule was never enforced because it might cost the GOP a spot on the ballot. That, in turn, would force candidates to run as independents.

The 2018 rule change was a risky gambit from a group of hard-liners on the State Central Committee as a pretext to forcing a lawsuit against Utah’s dual-path nominating system, known as SB54. Utah law says if a party wants to nominate candidates through convention, it must also allow signature gathering. Otherwise, the signature path is the only way to get on the ballot. By forcing the issue with the state, they hoped to overturn the law through the courts.

That scenario never came to pass. And, it never will.

On Saturday, the party’s central committee overwhelmingly approved changing the problematic language. The party has been trying to undo the rule change since it was implemented in 2018.

Utah GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen said he was happy to see the party put this behind them.

“Nobody dislikes SB54 as much as I do. But I told everyone we tried the lawsuit path, and it didn’t work,” Jorgensen said.

But, that doesn’t mean the issue is over. Jorgensen says he still wants to change Utah’s nomination process. He says he would like to see something similar to last year’s SB205 from Sen. Dan McCay. That proposal sought to allow political parties to do away with the signature route, but only if they raise the threshold for winning the nomination and avoiding a primary election to 66%. That bill was defeated in the Senate, then resurrected but did not move forward as time expired.

As I later reported, a group of high-ranking Republicans, including Gov. Spencer Cox and his top aides, legislative leaders, and then-GOP chairman Derek Brown, held a secret meeting at the governor’s mansion to strike a deal that ultimately killed the bill.

Jorgensen says he has not yet approached lawmakers about possibly making those changes in the coming session. McCay tells me he hasn’t decided whether to revive his legislation come January.

Jorgensen says the only way they’ll move forward is if they can pass the bill with a 2/3 majority in both the House and Senate, which would prevent a ballot initiative or referendum to undo the changes or possibly eliminate the convention path completely.

“We can only do it if the Legislature is all for it,” Jorgensen said.

Here’s what you need to know for Tuesday morning


🗳 Former Rep. Ken Ivory reclaimed the Utah House he resigned in 2019. He replaces Steve Christiansen, who took over the spot when Ivory stepped down. [Tribune]

⛽️ The infrastructure bill President Joe Biden signed on Monday could boost alternative fuel production in Utah. [Tribune]

🚨 Latter-day Saint apostle Dallin H. Oaks denied BYU using electroshock therapy on gay students while he was president of the school from 1971 to 1980. Researchers say records prove otherwise. [Tribune]


🏛 President Biden gets a signature win, signing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law Monday. [NYT]

  • Here’s what’s in the bill. [WSJ]

  • Utah Sen. Mitt Romney took part in the signing ceremony on the White House lawn. [WaPo]

⚖️ Steve Bannon surrendered to law enforcement after he was indicted for criminal contempt of Congress. Bannon vowed to fight the charges, and he would take down “the Biden regime.” [CNN]

☎️ President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met virtually for several hours on Monday. [AP]

🚨 Inflation has ruined other presidents. Now it’s threatening to take down the Biden administration. [Politico]

⚖️ Closing arguments in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial wrapped up on Monday, sending the case to the jury. [AP]

📊 60% of Americans say the Supreme Court should not overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion decision. Just 27% believe it should be overturned. [WaPo]

🐘 The Wyoming GOP kicked Rep. Liz Cheney to the curb. The state party central committee voted 31-29 to stop recognizing Cheney as a Republican. [AP]

🏛 Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is 81, announced he will not seek re-election in 2022. Leahy was first elected in 1974. [WaPo]

🗳 Beto O’Rourke jumps into the 2022 Texas gubernatorial race. [Texas Tribune]

⚖️ A judge in Connecticut found conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars outlet guilty of defamation on Monday. Jones refused to turn over financial records in the lawsuit filed by the families of victims in the Sandy Hook shooting. [NYT]

🦠 Pfizer will share the license for its COVID-19 pill, which could make the treatment more available to low-income nations. [WaPo]

🚚 Why are shortages and empty shelves across the country? Americans are buying a lot of stuff. [AP]

🛢 An increasing supply of crude oil should help ease rising gas and energy prices. [WSJ]

Tuesday morning’s Utah news roundup


  • November has been exceptionally warm in Utah — but that will end this week. [Tribune]

  • Police arrest man who allegedly shot at Draper pizzeria over order, then rode away on dirt bike. [Tribune]

  • Utah legislature considers incentives to ditch turf, ban cities and HOAs from requiring lawns. [Fox 13]

  • These local leaders oppose the Little Cottonwood gondola idea. Here’s how it will factor into the decision. [Deseret News]

  • Women, Democratic candidates say new district maps hurt them, protect incumbents. [KUTV]


  • 10% of Utah kids age 5 to 11 have received a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. [Tribune]

  • Utah sues over Biden vaccine mandate for health care workers. [Fox 13]

  • Utah grant to reimburse employees taking time off for vaccine. [Fox 13]

  • Study finds ‘very concerning’ rates of depression in Utah as COVID-19 rages on. [Deseret News]

  • Vaccination clinics start at Tooele elementary schools. [KUTV]


  • Kael Weston: Legislature leaves the stench of rotting democracy in the air. [Tribune]

  • Joseph Grant Cramer: Redistricting undermines public faith in government. [Tribune]

  • Rebecca Lawton: A community of river guides copes with loss. [Tribune]