Republican Representative Keven Stratton is a candidate seeking re-election to both his state House seat and an opening in the Senate created by Senator John Valentine’s resignation last September.
An unusual set of circumstances led to his candidacy for a second office, but is it legal?
The Democratic Party doesn’t think so. Last week, the Utah Democratic Party filed a complaint with the state elections office against Rep. Keven Stratton, stating that he is violating state law by being a candidate in two races.
State elections director Mark Thomas, however, told The Deseret News that he “doesn’t see any issues with Stratton running for both offices because his name will appear on the election ballot only for his House seat.” He believes that the law prohibits a candidate from “appearing on the ballot” twice — not actually being up for election, twice. It’s an interesting distinction that you could probably only get away with in Utah, where in 2011, 38 cities and towns canceled elections due to a lack of willing candidates. (Thomas estimated the cancellations saved individual municipalities $250,000 each that year.) Voter turnout and interest in local elections are so low that one small town forgot to hold an election two years in a row.
In fact, voter turnout in Utah is so abysmal that a Republican lawmaker made the unusual move to attempt to pre-register teenagers to vote right out of their high school civics classes in September, hoping to offer class credit for participating in the process.
The only essential elections to partisans, it seems, are Congressional elections — and the vast majority of the Republican leadership, like Mia Love, is hand-picked by the Koch brothers-tied organizations. Those rising stars will head directly to Congress if elected.
As far as Keven’s double-candidacy, Thomas claims that state law does not consider him a candidate for the Senate seat because the Republican Party will fill the vacancy internally and not at the polls, he said. “To me, it’s not even a close call,” Thomas said. “This statute is very clear what a candidate is.”
State Democrats want the elections office to declare Stratton ineligible for one or both seats, but Thomas insists that isn’t going to happen; he already gave his all-clear to Stratton, who is one of four candidates vying to replace Valentine, whose former district includes parts of Orem, Pleasant Grove, American Fork, Highland and Alpine.
It is not clear what will happen if Stratton wins both seats — he is running for re-election unopposed. GOP delegates in the district will meet Nov. 15 to choose Valentine’s replacement.
[Image Credit: KevenStratton.com]