SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A spokesman for Gov. Gary Herbert said Monday that the governor believes a law retooling Utah’s system for nominating political candidates is constitutional, despite Herbert’s message of support over the weekend for his fellow Republicans challenging the law in court.
Herbert’s political director Derek Miller attended a Saturday meeting of Utah Republican Party’s governing committee and told members that the governor supports the party’s lawsuit, in which Herbert is named as a defendant.
“The governor believes that there is a legitimate, legal and constitutional question on the lawsuit, and it is appropriate for it to move forward to once and for all resolve that,” Miller said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
The Utah Republican Party, which filed a lawsuit challenging the law last week, touted Herbert’ endorsement in an emailed newsletter Saturday night.
The law allows candidates to bypass the caucus and convention system by gathering signatures and participating in primary elections. The law was a compromise Utah’s Republican-controlled Legislature reached with a group called Count My Vote that working to change the system and allow more people to participate.
Herbert’ spokesman Marty Carpenter issued a statement late Monday afternoon that the governor believes the law is constitutional signed the bill because it is a good compromise that preserves the caucus and convention system while providing more opportunities for participation by the general electorate,” Carpenter said.
He said Herbert supports the right to challenge the law in court and respects the Republican Party’s decision to do so, the Deseret News reported
Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans told The Salt Lake Tribune that the party accepts both of Herbert’s statements.
“We know where the governor’s heart is,” Evans said. “But we recognize that he’s still the governor of the entire state.”