POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Independent advisor recommends that GOP lieutenant governor candidate is ineligible to run

Apr 29, 2024, 7:03 PM | Updated: Apr 30, 2024, 5:45 am

SALT LAKE CITY — An independent advisor for Utah’s 2024 gubernatorial race advises declining the candidacy of a lieutenant governor candidate due to their resident status.

On Monday, the Utah Lt. Governor’s Office released a memorandum by Greg Bell on Layne Bangerter’s candidacy as the running mate of gubernatorial nominee Phil Lyman.

The memorandum is in response to a controversy suggesting that Bangerter does not meet Utah’s constitutional residency qualification to be eligible for the lieutenant governor’s office due to his status as a Utah resident.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson called on Bell to review the claims and determine whether Bangerter can be a candidate due to his residency status.

The memorandum findings

According to the memorandum, Lyman and Bangerter submitted their Declaration of Candidacy forms at the lieutenant governor’s office on Monday morning. During the submission, the office declined the forms.

The memorandum stated, “The filing officer at the office has declined to accept the submission based on the interpretation of the residency qualification requirement stated in the Utah constitution and Mr. Bangerter’s acknowledgment that he has not been a resident of Utah for the five years immediately preceding the 2024 election.”

Bell referenced Article VII section 3(4) of the Utah Constitution, which states, “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.”

“In consultation with legal counsel and the plain language of the constitutional provision, we interpret this qualification requirement to mean the applicant must have been a resident of the State of Utah for the consecutive five-year period immediately prior to the election,” the memorandum stated.

According to the memorandum, Bangerter must have been a Utah resident from November 2019 to November 2024 in order to qualify for the lieutenant governor position.

“While it appears that Mr. Bangerter has been a resident of Utah at various times of his life, media has reported, and Mr. Bangerter has acknowledged, that he moved to Utah from Idaho in 2021, and that he has not been a resident of Utah for ‘five years next preceding the [2024] election,’” the memorandum stated.

Bell references documents obtained from the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office that indicated that Bangerter was registered to vote and voted in Idaho in the November 2020 election.

The memorandum cites Utah Election Code 20A-2-105(4)(e)(ii), which states, “if an individual leaves the state … and votes or registers in another state, the individual is no longer a resident of the state, the individual left.”

In the memorandum, Bell recommends that Henderson’s office decline Bangerter’s declaration of candidacy because of his findings.

In light of the constitutional eligibility requirements and the relevant application of the Utah Election Code, Mr. Bangerter does not meet the qualifications for the office of Lieutenant Governor. Therefore, the filing officers in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office are expressly precluded from accepting his declaration of candidacy. Utah Code 20A-9-201(4).

Therefore, I recommend the Lieutenant Governor apply these provisions of Utah Law, primarily Article VII, sec. 3(4) of the State Constitution, and decline the submission of declaration of candidacy.

Memorandum – Declaration of Candidacy of Layne Bangerter 

Bell states in the memorandum that Henderson’s office notifies Bangerter and his campaign of this decision and the process of challenging it, if the office chooses to decline the declaration of candidacy.

Lyman’s Response

Lyman’s campaign released a press release stating that the Utah Constitution code is “ambiguous language (that) is often thought to mean the residency requirement must be immediately preceding the election for a consecutive number of years.”

The press release cites an Ohio Supreme Court ruling, saying the 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,” the press release on X stated.

According to court documents, Lyman has filed a lawsuit against Henderson’s office over her office’s decision not to allow Bangerter to be his running mate.

No ruling yet

While Bell recommends that Henderson’s office decline Bangerter’s declaration of candidacy, Henderson has not done so at the time of publication.

In March, Henderson designed Bell to serve as an independent advisor for the 2024 gubernatorial election. Bell was the former lieutenant governor of the state of Utah from 2009 to 2013.

On Saturday, during the Republican state nominating convention, Utah Gov. Cox was greeted by a mixed crowd filled with boos and cheers during his candidacy speech. Meanwhile, Lyman was greeted by raucous applause from GOP delegates.

After two rounds of delegates’ voting, Lyman received 67.54% of the votes, while Cox earned only 32.46%. However, since Cox already qualified for the primary, the two will face off on June 25 in the regular primary election.

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Independent advisor recommends that GOP lieutenant governor candidate is ineligible to run