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Opposition fails to foil bill to outlaw `fusion candidates’

SHARE Opposition fails to foil bill to outlaw `fusion candidates’

It was a bad day for third party candidates Friday.

A bill that would outlaw so-called fusion candidates passed a House committee over the strenuous objections of the Utah Libertarian and Reform parties."You have all the power. You don't have to fear us," Claire Geddes said to Republican and Democratic members of the House Government Operations Standing Committee. Geddes is state chairman of the Reform Party, a party that grew out of Ross Perot's United We Stand movement.

"The state has no right to tell the people of Utah who can run in what party," said Jim Dexter, Libertarian Party chairman. "If the Legislature passes this bill you are denying voters their rights."

But sponsor Rep. Joe Murray, R-Ogden, said no candidate will be banned from the ballot and any citizen can still vote for any candidate.

But a candidate could only run under the banner of one party, not two, three or even six, as one candidate for the Legislature did in 1996.

Rob Bishop, chairman of the State Republican Party, said his party has internally disallowed any GOP candidate from running under another party's banner. He said state law only allows a party to refuse to certify a candidate for several specific reasons, and being a candidate in another party isn't one of them. So, if Republicans imposed their internal rule on a fusion candidate, they could be sued, he said.

Geddes said 1996 Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Jim Bradley asked her to be his lieutenant governor running mate. "And if I had accepted, I would have run under the Democratic and Reform Party (banners)." Murray's bill would bar that.

"We are basically a one-party state," said Geddes. "Now the majority Republicans (in the Legislature) will be telling us how to run our (political) parties, and you shouldn't. People aren't voting. And when they don't participate, we just turn our government over to special interests, and that's what has happened." The bill now goes to the House floor for debate.