SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A Utah gubernatorial candidate is asking a court to put him on the June primary ballot, after failing to win majority delegate vote during the Republican Convention or receiving the required number of voter signatures.
Claim by Burningham: Fair or foul?
Jeff Burningham’s campaign is filing suit in federal court, because they claim Gov. Gary Herbert’s various coronavirus restrictions severely impaired the ability to gather enough signatures before the deadline.
Utah Policy notes Burningham is now the second Republican to file a suit seeking a spot on the June primary ballot, after Jan Garbett did the same earlier this week. She cited reasons also due to coronavirus restrictions.
A federal judge already sided with her and lowered the threshold to reach the ballot from 28,000 to 19,040 signatures.
In the court filing, Burningham’s campaign said it had collected 19,150 signatures before the COVID-19 restrictions went into place. Now, they’re asking to be placed on the ballot so long as 70% of those signatures (13,405) are deemed to be valid.
“When the governor declared a state of emergency in early March, I put the safety and well-being of all Utahns ahead of politics, to the detriment of my campaign,” Burningham told UtahPolicy.com. “COVID-19 made it difficult to collect signatures, campaign, and share my vision with voters.”
I owe it to everyone who has supported me to exhaust every avenue to make it on the primary ballot. Many supporters and donors have urged me to pursue ballot access and with the lowered threshold, I intend to submit the signatures our team gathered,” – Jeff Burningham.
Jon Huntsman Jr. said he supports Burningham’s bid to get on the primary ballot.
He tweeted Thursday that Burningham and Aimee Winder Newton should both be in the June primary election.
I believe @JeffBurningham ran a great campaign for Governor. Because he fell short on signatures due to a state emergency, and a crazy system of signatures (that should have been reformed long ago) he should absolutely be on the primary ballot, as should @AWinderNewton. #utpol
— Jon Huntsman (@JonHuntsman) April 30, 2020
As it stands, there will be a four-way primary for the GOP nomination in June. That would feature Jon Huntsman Jr., Greg Hughes, Spencer Cox and Thomas Wright on the ballot.
Both Cox and Hughes won majority votes during the party’s convention April 25 — with Huntsman and Wright qualifying through signature-gathering prior to the convention. Cox also qualified via signature-gathering before receiving the most delegate votes at the convention, securing a place on the primary ballot.