By Jim Ellis
May 31, 2017 — The replacement process for Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-Alpine/ Sandy) southeastern Utah congressional 3rd District seat is moving forward with both clarity and cloudiness. The field of 15 Republican special election candidates include a mayor, three state legislators, a former state representative, a radio talk show host, an advertising executive, the son of a local college basketball star and two attorneys, among others. Democrats feature no elected officials in their mix of four contenders. They have yet to schedule a party nominating convention.
Of the group, already Provo Mayor John Curtis and Tanner Ainge, son of Boston Celtics general manager and former Brigham Young University basketball star Danny Ainge, have already said they will use the petition process to place their names on the ballot. The vast majority of the others will enter the party convention.
Going the petition route, however, is no sure option. With a requirement to gather 7,000 valid registered voter signatures from within the district boundaries by June 12 means the project features a high degree of prospective failure.
In any event, whether the party nomination or petition process proves daunting for certain candidates, it is a sure bet that many will not make it to the ballot. Therefore, especially for Republicans, we are likely to see the current 15-member candidate field dwindle to no more than four.
Another twist in this special election saga concerns former Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin who placed second in this district during the November election. He had been considered a potential Republican special election candidate, but did not file on Friday. He can, however, still gain ballot access as an Independent, so we will likely be forced to wait much closer to the June 12 non-party affiliated candidate deadline to determine with any certainty whether he will or will not become a candidate.