Phil Lyman’s GOP lieutenant governor pick not eligible to run in Utah, elections office rules

Former Lt. Gov. Greg Bell ruled that Lyman’s pick, Layne Bangerter, who lived in Idaho until 2021, does not meet Utah’s constitutional residency requirements.

Republican candidate for governor Phil Lyman, fresh off a victory at the party’s state convention Saturday, will have to find a new running mate after state elections officials ruled that his first pick, Layne Bangerter, does not meet Utah’s residency requirements.

Bangerter lived in Utah most of his life but was an Idaho resident until 2021. The Utah Constitution requires candidates for governor or lieutenant governor to be a “citizen of the state for five years next preceding the election.”

Lyman contended that meant that Bangerter only needed to live in the state for five years at some point in his life. “Layne Bangerter easily meets this requirement and is a fully qualified candidate for lieutenant governor,” the Lyman campaign said in a statement Monday.

But Republican Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson — who oversees Utah’s elections and is up for reelection this year — asked former Lt. Gov. Greg Bell to rule on Bangerter’s eligibility, an attempt to avoid the obvious conflict of interest if Henderson decided Bangerter should be kicked off the ticket.

Bell determined that Bangerter was indeed not eligible.

“In consultation with legal counsel and the plain language of the constitutional provision, we interpret this qualification requirement to mean the applicant must have been a resident of the State of Utah for the consecutive five-year period immediately prior to the election,” Bell wrote in his analysis.

Bell wrote that, based on that interpretation, election officials are “expressly precluded from accepting his declaration of candidacy.”

The Salt Lake Tribune reported on Saturday that Bangerter Idaho resident before relocating to Utah in 2021, according to the website for his ranch in Gunlock. The Idaho Secretary of State’s office shows Bangerter made a donation to Republican Raul Labrador’s gubernatorial campaign using an Idaho address in 2022.

Bangerter also did not register to vote in Utah until 2022. He told The Tribune on Saturday that he had not moved back to Utah until 2021.

Lyman said Monday afternoon that he had seen Bell’s decision and his campaign had asked the Utah Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order preventing Bangerter from being disqualified until a judge can hear the case.

On Monday, Bangerter and Lyman filed a lawsuit in Third District Court against Henderson and her elections director, Ryan Cowley, demanding that Bangerter be allowed to be included on the ticket. According to the suit, Lyman’s campaign had “invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours in pursuing their campaign” and the refusal to allow Bangerter to file was hurting the campaign.

It acknowledges that Bangerter was born in Brazil and lived in Utah from the time he was 18 months old until 1990, then did not live in the state again until 2021. The lawsuit argues that Bangerter has lived in the state for more than 30 years, but does not contend he has been in the state for the entirety of the past five years.

“It should be heard by the district court very soon,” Lyman said.

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