POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Governor candidate Phil Lyman sues Lt. Gov. to get running mate on the ballot

Apr 30, 2024, 5:30 PM | Updated: May 3, 2024, 5:35 pm

Phil Lyman, candidate for governor, speaks during the Utah Republican Party state nominating conven...

Phil Lyman, candidate for governor, speaks during the Utah Republican Party state nominating convention at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 27, 2024. (Marielle Scott, Deseret News)

(Marielle Scott, Deseret News)

Listen👇 to the podcast of  KSL TV reporter Lindsay Aerts on with Jeff Caplan Friday at 5:15


 

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah candidate for governor, Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, has filed a lawsuit against the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office for declaring his running mate ineligible to appear on the Republican primary ballot.

The Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office did not accept the declaration of candidacy from Lyman’s running mate, Layne Bangerter, because Bangerter had not lived in Utah for all five years leading up to the 2024 race.

Bangerter said he moved to Utah from Idaho in 2021. That year, he was an Idaho state delegate.

What the Utah Constitution says

The lawsuit will center on the meaning of a line from Article VII sec. 3(4) of the Utah State Constitution, which refers to the positions of lieutenant governor, attorney general, state auditor and state treasurer:

“No person is eligible to any of the offices provided for in Section 1 unless at the time of election that person is a qualified voter and has been a resident citizen of the State for five years next preceding the election.”

An independent advisor, who also happens to be a former lieutenant governor, Greg Bell wrote in a memorandum that the wording means “the consecutive five-year period immediately prior to the election.” Because Bangerter lived in Idaho until 2021, Bell recommended the state of Utah should not accept his filing to run.

Because she is running for reelection in 2024, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson tapped Bell as an independent advisor for any issues that may arise in this year’s race for governor.

In a statement texted to KSL NewsRadio, Lyman said this is the wrong interpretation of the State Constitution.

“The constitution is very clear that, to run for governor or LG [lieutenant governor], a person has to be a resident of Utah for 5 years by the time of the next election. They [the lieutenant governor’s office] should have allowed Layne to file.”

The lawsuit

Lyman claimed in his lawsuit that the Lieutenant Governor’s Office must allow Bangerter to run and that its refusal amounts to campaign interference.

“The LGO’s [lieutenant governor’s office] refusal to accept Bangerter’s Declaration of Candidacy intentionally interferes with the campaign of Phillip Lyman.”

Lyman added that Bangerter meets the constitutional residency requirement because he “has resided in Utah for more than 30 years.”

The lawsuit said Bangerter “resided in Utah from 1963 through 1990, then again from 2021 through the present.”

Because Lyman believes the Lieutenant Governor’s Office acted in “bad faith,” he is requesting that the court compel the Lieutenant Governor’s Office to accept Bangerter’s filing, pay damages “for the loss of time on their campaign,” and foot the bill for Lyman’s “attorney fees and costs” in the case.

The Office of the Utah Lieutenant Governor declined to give a comment to KSL NewsRadio because of the ongoing litigation. 

Conflicting court cases

In a news release, Lyman argued an Ohio Supreme Court case about similar constitutional language sided with him.

“…In one of the few cases to scrutinize this language, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled this language to mean any period of the required number of years preceding the election. In other words, the legal interpretation of the term “next” in this context would require any period of five years preceding the 2024 election. Layne Bangerter easily meets this requirement and is a fully qualified candidate for lieutenant governor.”

However, Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, told KSL NewsRadio he sees that ruling as irrelevant.

“It’s just amazing to me that you’d look to Ohio for an obscure decision that doesn’t appear to be relevant to prove that you’re right about an interpretation of the Utah Constitution,” said Weiler. “Obviously, it’s the Utah Supreme Court that would interpret the Utah Constitution, not the Ohio Supreme Court.”

Weiler responded to Lyman’s post on X with screenshots of a 2012 Utah Supreme Court case where a Utahn sued Gov. Gary Herbert to challenge the results of the 2010 election.

KSL NewsRadio checked the case and found Justice Tom Lee wrote the following:

“To be ‘eligible for the office of governor,’ our constitution says that person must be at least thirty years of age, a qualified voter, and a resident citizen of the state for at least the five preceding years.”

Timeline

The clock is ticking for Lyman to get his running mate on the primary ballot. While that election happens June 25, Weiler said Lyman’s campaign has to fix this issue in days.

“The ballots will be mailed to overseas military people in the next 10 days,” said Weiler. “So it’s really important Mr. Lyman choose a qualified running mate.”

According to the state elections website, those ballots go out on May 10.

Weiler said he is speaking out because he took an oath to uphold the State Constitution.

“This isn’t personal, it’s just an observation, saying ‘Hey, probably 95% of the adults in the state would be eligible to serve as lieutenant governor, but this particular person isn’t, according to our constitution’.”

Bangerter is a former EPA official from the administration of former President Donald Trump. He currently lives in Washington County, Utah.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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Governor candidate Phil Lyman sues Lt. Gov. to get running mate on the ballot