Judge denies Dems’ request to force candidate’s removal from November ballot

Sep 17, 2022, 2:27 PM
FILE: Members of the House of Representatives work in the House chamber at the Capitol in Salt Lake...
FILE: Members of the House of Representatives work in the House chamber at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Day 3 of the Utah legislative session, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (Spencer Heaps/Deseret News)
(Spencer Heaps/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge denied the Utah Democratic Party’s request for a preliminary injunction to force Joel Ferry’s name to be removed from the ballot ahead of November’s election while the case makes its way through the court.

Judge Jill Parrish denied the party’s request to stop Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson from sending ballots to overseas military members with Ferry’s name. Ferry, a former Republican representative from Brigham City, was appointed as acting director of the Division of Natural Resources this summer and resigned from his position in the Utah House after receiving a favorable recommendation from a Senate committee in August.

“We are not giving up fighting for the rights of voters in (House District 1) to choose their own representative instead of having their legislator picked by a small group of party insiders,” said Diane Lewis, Democratic Party chairwoman.

“That means the next step is to take our case to the Utah Supreme Court, asking them to rule on the (lieutenant governor)’s decision to certify Mr. Ferry as being qualified for the general election ballot when he is clearly not, and Mr. Ferry’s violation of the separation of powers provisions in the Utah Constitution,” Lewis said in a statement.

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Ferry awaits confirmation from the full Utah Legislature later this month. He has said he plans to keep his name on the ballot in order to give voters the opportunity to vote for a candidate of their party of choice.

If he wins reelection, he would resign and the Republican Party would be able to appoint someone to fill the seat. Under normal circumstances, parties can replace candidates or members of the Legislature who step down, but it is now too late to do so as the Republican Party has already had its convention, Ferry has said. He said he believes a change in the law should occur to allow parties to replace candidates ahead of an election.

Should Ferry’s name be removed from the ballot, his opponent, Joshua Hardy, would run unopposed in the largely Republican district.

“We hope to see this issue resolved as quickly as possible. Simply put, Joel Ferry and the Republican Party are attempting to fundamentally disenfranchise the people of District 1, and we deserve better than that,” Hardy said in the statement.

Henderson previously declined the Utah Democratic Party’s request for her to remove his name from the ballot. In a letter, the lieutenant governor noted that state law does not disqualify Perry from remaining in the race. The only reasons specified in state code for a candidate’s disqualification include death, resignation due to a new physical or mental disability, improper filing, or registering to run as president or vice president of the United States.

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Judge denies Dems’ request to force candidate’s removal from November ballot